|Simplified Scientific Christianity
In modern times the Science of Astrology has come to be regarded as an exploded fallacy, and, like the clairvoyant, the astrologer is looked upon as a charlatan, and not without reason; for such advertisements as are found in almost any paper offering to cast a horoscope telling one's fortune from the cradle to the grave for the magnificent sum of ten cents or even for a postage stamp are enough to give a certain justification for the appellation "fakir," and this lecture is given to show another side, not popularly known, to this ancient and misjudged science; to show its uses and its limitations.
There are two kinds of astrology and two kinds of astrologers: those who do not even cast a horoscope for their patrons but only ask the month of birth, which information tells them what sign the Sun was in at the time of the person's birth. Then they copy from a book or have a set of twelve mimeographed forms telling the person's "fortune."
It is evident to any reasoning mind that there are more than twelve classes of people in the world, and according to that method there would be a similarity of line if the case of every twelfth person, whereas we know that no two persons have the same experience; that every life is different from all others, and any method that does not make such a difference must be false upon the face of it.
The ten-cent astrologer is a good business man. His mimeographed "reading," stationery and postage do not cost more than two cents, so he has a profit of eight cents for every horoscope (?). Commercially that is an enormous profit, but it fades into insignificance before the fact that every time the astrologer (?) gets an order he gets the name of a fool, and he has a regular "follow up" system whereby he notifies his customers from time to time that certain very important developments are due to take place in a near future which he will reveal for a dollar. He will work his victim systematically until at last experience has taught him how worthless are the prognostications he receives, and then such people cry down astrology as fraud or folly.
The scientific method demands first, month, day, and year, from the applicant, because it takes into consideration all of the nine heavenly bodies in the solar system, and it knows that they have at that time a certain relative position to one another. That same position will not occur again until a sidereal year has passed, and that is 25,868 of our ordinary years in length, so that if a child is born today it would take 25,868 years before another child could be born with the same horoscope. But even that is not enough, for it is estimated that a child is born every second; that would give 86,400 whose experience in life would be alike if only the day of birth were taken into consideration. Therefore the scientific astrologer demands both the hour and place or birth in addition to the day, month, and year, for there are seldom two people born in the same place at the same hour and minute; even twins come from twenty minutes to a number of hours apart, and that makes a great difference. Where they are born from the same sac and alike, they will have been born when the same zodiacal sign was rising in the East, for that is an important factor in giving form to the body, but where they are born from separate envelopes and dissimilar, calculation will bring out the fact that the end of one sign was rising at the birth of one, and the beginning of the next when the second was delivered, or, where there are several hours between, there may be more signs between, for as the Earth turns on its axis through the day, a new sign rises every two hours at the equator, but nearer the pole some signs are passed quicker on account of the inclination of the Earth's axis, so that at times there may be several signs between the birth of twins, which would make their lives very different.
When, however, it happens that two children are born in the same place at the same time, there is also a marked similarity in their lives. There are such cases on record. One instance will suffice: A Mr. Samuel Hemmings was born in the same parish in London, at the same hour and near the same minute as King George the Third, June 4, 1738. He went into business as an ironmonger on the same day the King was crowned; he was married the same day as his majesty, died on the same day, and also other events in the two lives resembled each other. The difference in station precluded both being kings, but on the same day when one became the monarch of a kingdom, the other also became an independent business man.
Astronomy stands in about the same relation to astrology as anatomy to physiology. Anatomy gives the dry facts as to the location and the structure of the constituent organs of the body, and astronomy gives like dry data with regard to the heavenly bodies. But, as it is reserved for physiology to enunciate the utility of the different organic parts of the body, which alone makes such knowledge of value, so it is the part of astrology to explain the significance of the changing relative positions of the heavenly bodies in regard to the actions of mankind.
It will need no argument to prove that the chemical condition of the Earth's atmosphere is different in the morning from what it is at noon or evening. We also see the changes produced in the different seasons, and we recognize that these changes are due to the Sun's changed position. We also recognize the effect of the Moon on the tides, etc. These bodies move fast, yet are constantly producing changes in the atmospheric conditions of the Earth; and in these days of wireless telegraphy it should not be hard to conceive that the other heavenly bodies also produce an effect. As we have already seen, these changes are so numerous that the same chemical condition could not occur except at intervals of 25,868 years. Thus we see that the electrostatic condition of the atmosphere at the moment a child draws its first breath would give to each atom of the little sensitive body an individual stamp. It is as if we were charging a new electric battery, and any change in the atmospheric condition will affect that brain differently from all others, for its original stamp varied from all others.
There is in the mind of many people the idea that astrology is fatalistic; and while it may so appear, a deeper study will show that this idea is erroneous; that as all our sorrows and pains are the result of ignorance, so knowledge will avert misfortune if applied in time; and in order to understand the scope of our free will we must recognize the fact that the result of our past deeds goes through a threefold process of ripening.
In the first place there are causes which have been allowed to run their course unchecked by other acts and have so nearly worked themselves into effects that they are like the ball shot from a pistol — they are beyond our power of interference and must be allowed to run their course for good or ill. They are called "ripe" causation in esotericism, and they are clearly shown in the horoscope when properly cast. Of course it would do us no good in one sense to know them when we cannot avert them, but sometimes we may alter the conditions under which such a ripe cause spends itself, and then there is the hope. We see the passing cloud, we know when it will have spent its fury, and that gives us a hope we should not have save for the prognostications of astrology.
The second kind of causes is that generated and worked out from day to day; a sort of "pay as you go transaction." This kind may often be avoided or rectified by a knowledge of astrology. The tendencies are also shown in the horoscope.
The third kind of causes is that which we are making but which we cannot work out now. That is saved up for adjustment in later years or later lives. In regard to this class we have absolute freedom. The horoscope will aid us by showing the tendencies, so that we may be particularly careful at critical times, working with all our might to catch the good opportunities and taking extra pains to avoid an evil tendency.
To illustrate the working of the Law of Consequence in relation to prediction we may cite some cases within our own experience.
Mr. L., a well known and popular lecturer, had never studied astrology, but was interested and was offered tuition. In order to lend interest to the study his own horoscope was used as a basis of instruction, as he would thus be able to check the interpretations of the past and thus arrive at a better understanding than if someone else's nativity had been used. In the course of the calculations it came out that Mr. L. was subject to frequent accidents. Previous accidents and happenings were figured out to the very day they happened, which impressed Mr. L very much.
It was further seen that on the 21st of July, 1906, another accident was due and would affect the upper part of the chest, arms, and neck to the lower part of the head; also that it would result from a short journey. Mr. L. was warned that as the new Moon, occurring on that day, was the factor in bringing about the event, he must stay in the house on that day and also on the seventh day after, the latter being even more dangerous than the original. He was much impressed and promised to obey the injunction carefully.
Just previous to the critical time we wrote Mr. L. from Seattle to insure remembrance of directions and received a letter in reply that he was mindful and would be careful.
The next communication was from a mutual friend, stating that on the critical day, July 28, Mr. L. had gone to Sierra Madre in an electric car and at a railway crossing had come in collision with a train, was hurled out through a window and sustained injuries in the placed mentioned in the prediction; also a lesion to a tendon which had not been seen.
It was a sore puzzle, of course, to know why Mr. L. had disregarded the injunction, as he was very much impressed with the reality of the danger. The answer came three months later, when he was able to write himself. He said: "I thought the 28th was the 29th." This was plainly a case of "ripe" causation that could not be avoided. In other cases people have been warned of accidents, have followed instructions and escaped, and said afterwards: "But do you really think I would have been hurt if I had not done so?" That is the difficulty! People do not believe unless they get it knocked into them, as Mr. L. did. He wrote: "These accidents have deepened my respect for astrology immensely." But is that the only way we can learn? If so, the more the pity for us.
It is a true saying that "no man liveth to himself." We all affect each other. That also is shown in the horoscope. The death of the parents is particularly shown in each one's horoscope, for they are the source of the body in which we live, and often where the birth hour is unknown the proficient astrologer can find it from the great events in life, particularly if the father's and mother's death day is given him. Husband and wife are also so tied that the great events in the life of one are shown in the horoscope of the other. A case in point came under notice a few years ago when a Mrs. F. was warned of a danger of rupture of relations between herself and Mr. F. She was told that an anticipated journey would be stopped and social functions suspended. (They were society people.) The lady acknowledged having contemplated a journey to Europe, but pooh-poohed the idea of giving it up and asked if Mr. F. was in danger of death. The answer was: Worse! But as it was a delicate matter and she a stranger, no more could be said, save that November would be a time of disaster. The 14th of that month her husband was sentenced to five years in the penitentiary for criminal assault on a little girl. The journey was of course suspended and social ostracism followed. This case shows particularly the delicate position of the astrologer. Though he may see and is desirous of helping, conventions debar him from saying outright what he sees. The before- mentioned case is in point. Though anxious to avert suffering it was impossible to warn. Therefore we advocate the study of astrology by all.
Not even the best astrologer who is a stranger can see into the lives of those near and dear to us as we an when we have studied astrology, because of the insight we have already gained into their characters. Conventions do not hinder us to the same extent as they affect a stranger. Besides, a bought horoscope never can engender in us the sympathy for others which comes from the personal knowledge of astrology. When a visitor to Columbus, Ohio, the writer was shown the horoscope of a certain boy cast by his aunt. It was seen at once that the boy was going through a crisis which would last about six years. During that time an enormous amount of evil would surely come to the surface, and all would depend upon what his treatment at home would be — and oh, the pity of it, ignorance of the hidden causes governed the attitude of the parents. Instead of forbearance, love, and sympathy, he was getting lectures and punishments. Regarded as a scapegrace, how could he be expected to be good at that age! A great wave of sympathy swept over the writer at the realization of what that poor boy must suffer, and when a horoscope of the lad's younger sister revealed the fact that when about 14 she would enter upon a similar crisis, the need was felt of sending an urgent message to those parents, telling them for pity's sake to lavish love on that child in the few years which would elapse ere the commencement of the crisis, to make home so dear and homelike to her that when the crisis comes she will have so much love and cheer at home that all other companionships and all other places must seem dull by comparison. Only in that way will it be possible to save that child and it has been a frequent prayer with the writer that the advice may be heeded.
We have those mysteries, the children, all around and amongst us. Upon the way we solve the riddle will it depend what we reap as a result of our guardianship. It is not beyond the average intellect to be able to cast an ordinary horoscope and read it for character. Character is destiny, and if we know the character of a growing child we may lay up for ourselves great treasure in heaven by strengthening the good tendencies and helping it by example and precept to weed out the evil.
One of the greatest uses of astrology in the writer's opinion is in determining the character of children and bringing them up so as to strengthen their weak points and stem the evil tendencies. In character reading astrology is correctly interpreted in 99 per cent of the cases by most experienced astrologers, and no parent can benefit and help a child more than by getting a horoscope for it, except by learning to case it. In the meantime a friend who understands astrology may be utilized to furnish a horoscope for the child.
While astrology is an absolutely true science, it must always be taken into consideration that the astrologer is but human and therefore fallible. Though a conscientious astrologer with the ability to combine and blend the stellar influences will generally give correct forecasts, he is every liable to meet his Waterloo, often where he least expects it. The writer has only once said that a prediction he made would not fail and that time it did fail. There was an escape-clause and it was seen, but the aspects were so strong that it seemed impossible that the predicted event could fail to materialize. It nearly happened, but was frustrated at the critical moment, showing the potency of the escape-clause.
That predictions fail at times is due to a factor which the astrologer cannot take into consideration — the free will of man. So long as people drift aimlessly with the time and tide of life, wafted hither and thither by the wind of circumstance the task of prediction is easy, and the careful and competent astrologer can predict accurately for the great majority of people for the horoscope shows their tendencies, and apart from individual effort mankind follows these tendencies unresistingly. But the more evolved the man, the more liable is the astrologer to fail, for he can only see the tendencies; the will of the man as a factor it is beyond him to calculate. In the nature of things there must be this element of uncertainty. If conditions were so hard and fast that no mistake were possible, it would show that inexorable fate governed human life, and there would be no use in making an effort to change conditions, but the very fact that predictions do fail is an inspiration, for it shows that a certain amount of free will does exist.
There is one phase of prediction where astrology is perhaps infallible and of great use, that is in determining the affinity of people, so that instead of making marriage a lottery or chance it can be ascertained before-hand what amount of happiness or sorrow will result from such a union. There would certainly be no need for divorce in cases where a fairly competent astrologer had recommended the union.
In the previous lectures we have seen that human life is governed by a great law of nature, the law of Consequence or Causation; that our every act is causative and will bring its inevitable effect as surely as the pebble thrown into the air returns to earth. under this Great Law we meet again both friends and foes and it seems that it is impossible to come into the closest of all relations — marriage — with a stranger. Therefore it appears that the influences which thus incite people are ripe causation which cannot be avoided. The writer has noticed that when people ask for an astrological forecast of a proposed marriage, and predictions are favorable, they invariably hurry the ceremony because it is in line with their wishes, but where the astrologer is compelled to predict disaster they invariably conclude that "he does not know as much as he thinks he does," and they either get married anyway or consult someone who predicts as they wish and then follow his advice.
The greatest of all the uses of astrology is in dealing with sick people, and that is the only use the writer makes of it now. We have spoken of the Law of Consequence, which brings to each at the appointed time the results of his past actions, whether in this or other lives. The stars are the Clock of Destiny, as it were; the twelve signs of the zodiac correspond to the face of the clock with its twelve figures; the Sun and the planets with their slow motions indicate the year when any certain event is due, and the swift-moving Moon will tell us the month.
There is one class of people who are particularly under the influence of Luna — the Moon. Lunatics we call them on that account. In their lives the changes of the moon are particularly felt and the astrologer can forecast not only to the day, but even to the very hour when rises manifest. A case in point from the writer's experience will illustrate.
The wife of a friend became mentally ill and was put under the care of two nurses. Warning was given concerning crises at different periods and the precautions taken prevented serious trouble. The lady's husband always made it a point to be on hand to help the nurses and a straitjacket was used. One such night a warning had been given for two a.m. The gentleman was there as usual in the room with the patient. He lay on the bed fully dressed, and the lady was sitting up in bed during the fore part of the night, talking, mostly rationally, and pleaded to have the wrist- bands of the straitjacket untied.
As she seemed so rational the husband complied, and a little later the lady herself unfastened the straps imprisoning her lower limbs.
About two a.m. she arose and searched the room for something, still speaking quietly and rationally, but Mr. — got the idea that she was hunting for a knife, so he also arose to watch her, but as he did so she sprang at him, biting his cheek, and a knife fell to the floor. it took the combined efforts of the husband and nurses to get her back into the strait-jacket.
A few days later Mr. — discovered that his trousers had been pierced in two places by a glancing blow from the knife. The attack occurred at the very hour predicted.
When sickness comes to anyone the crisis is shown by the horoscope, and from that it is possible to see the developments in the case, so as to be able to take advantage of the propitious times. Then the healing remedies will have so much greater effect, and if the healer is unable to make much progress on account of adverse planetary conditions he can at least hold out hope and say when a change will occur.
Such a case happened in Duluth when the writer was asked to attend a lady suffering from blood poison. She had been given up by the doctors. On casting her horoscope it was seen that she had had a similar disease seven years before and that another crisis was due in a few days, when the new Moon would aggravate the condition.
The lady was in great agony, with her relatives around her. She was taking leave of them and expected to die. As the Moon was dark it did not hinder much and in about twenty minutes the patient was resting easy and without pain. In two days the poison had been driven from the abdomen down to the knees; but then the new Moon stopped progress, and the third day itching and pain in the lower part of the limbs commenced again. We fought it for three days, but, while able to stop the pain during treatments, it commenced an hour or two after. The swelling remained as before. it was then plain that no relief was possible till the Moon had turned the full. The patient was told that no relief was possible at once, but on a designated day the swelling would yield to the treatments already given and the pain cease. On the day designated the lady got up in the morning and could put her shoes on with ease. The sickness was past.
In this relation a physician and surgeon in Portland, Oregon, said that his experience had led him to always perform his operations, if at all possible, while the Moon is increasing, as he had noticed that there was greater vitality at that time and wounds healed better than when the operation was performed while the Moon was decreasing.
To the esotericist the twelve signs of the zodiac are the visible vehicles of the twelve great Creative hierarchies which helped man to evolve up to his present stage of self-consciousness, the Sun being the vesture of the highest spiritual intelligence manifest in our system at the present time. The seven planets: Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Earth, Venus, mercury, and the bodies of the seven great Star Angels, of whom we hear in all religions as the seven Spirits before the Throne, the seven Archangels of the Mohammedans, the seven Rishis of the Hindus, the seven Amshaspands of the Parsis, etc. They act according to the law of Consequence, and are the Ministers of our Lord, the Sun-God, each taking care of a definite part of God's will.
From them as Spirits we have all come in seven "rays," and one of them is thus our "Father-Star," and remains so throughout all our lives. That fact does not preclude that we may be and are born at different times under all the other stars, so as to gather varied experience, and our horoscope will show what particular star is our "ruler" in this life, but we never know our Father-Star until at the last initiation. From this fact comes also the beautiful doctrine of "twin souls" not to be confounded with the coarse and bestial teaching which has been made the excuse for abominable adulterous practices. But all who have emanated from the same father-star are brother, sister, or twin souls in all their lives on Earth, and no one can enter an esoteric school except the one composed of our brothers from the same ray or star-angel from which we have emanated. This was what Christ jesus meant when He said to the disciples, "Your Father and my Father," whereby we may understand that Jesus and his disciples were twin souls emanated from the same ray. To the Pharisees he ascribes a different origin, calling them children of the devil, Saturn or Satan. Yet it must not be supposed that Saturn is evil; he has his beneficent mission to fulfill, like all the other of God's ministers; he is the subduing influence which brings sorrow to put a damper upon our arrogance; the tempter, to bring out our imperfections that we may be purged of evil and become perfect and virtuous; and his virtues are grand and great, chastity and justice, a rectitude that will never swerve, but it lacks mercy, and love; that comes from the beautiful Venus. From her also come music and art, which serve to turn us to the higher side of nature. Jupiter is the beacon that lures us on to heaven and inspires us with lofty thoughts of devotion to God and altruistic aspirations. Mars is the energizer spurring us on to work in the vineyard of life. Were it not for his prodding influence there would be no vim or vigor in man. In his evil aspects he gives passion, war and strife, but that is because we misuse the energy he imparts. In the same way Venus will give sloth, and Jupiter indolence; but when we allow their good influences to be misdirected by our lower natures, Saturn comes and puts us through the trials of sorrow and tribulation to bring us again to the path of advancement and purity.
Mercury, the messenger of the Gods, is the fount of wisdom whence the human mind gets its tone, the smallest of all the planets, but the kingdom of the star-angel who has the most important mission of all in respect to our human race. Upon its position and configurations in the horoscope will depend whether the coming life will be one of devotion to the higher self or if the lower nature will hold sway, for the mind is the link between the higher Self and the lower nature. If it is so posited that it cares more for the pleasures of sense than the joys of the soul, sorrowful will be the end. Yet it should always be remembered that no man is compelled to do evil, and that the greater the temptation, the greater the reward to him that overcometh the tendencies shown in the horoscope. For let it always be remembered that though the stars impel, they cannot and do not compel. In the final analysis we are the arbiters of our destiny, and despite all the evil influences it is within our power to rule our stars by the exercise of Will, the badge of our divinity to which all else must bow.
As Ella Wheeler Wilcox has said so poignantly:
When we speak of spiritual sight we are not speaking symbolically, or of a vague something, an ecstatic feeling or the like, but of a definite faculty as real as physical sight and as necessary to perception of the spiritual worlds and to true insight into super-physical conditions as physical sight is indispensable to a comprehensive insight into material things.
The spiritual sight of which we speak is not to be confused with clairvoyance developed in spiritualistic circles. The latter depends upon a negative state of mind where the inner worlds are reflected in the consciousness of the sitters, as the surrounding landscape is reflected in a mirror. Such a method gives sight, but insight concerning the thing seen is lacking in the negative clairvoyant as much as in the mirror. He is in a position similar to that of a man tied on a horse without rein or bridle, who is carried wheresoever the horse pleases. Such a faculty is a curse. The properly trained clairvoyant is not tied; he can get on or off as he pleases, has rein and bridle on his horse; he is master, the other a slave.
Certain negative phases of clairvoyance are also developed by taking drugs, by crystal gazing, etc. In all such cases the faculty is a danger and a detriment, being uncontrolled by the Spirit. Drugs have a fearfully destructive effect on the different vehicles of man. But the most dangerous method of development is indiscriminate breathing exercises. Many a man is in the insane asylum today or his body lies in a consumptive's grave, on account of having practiced breathing exercises in development classes, taught by persons as ignorant as himself. Breathing exercises, when necessary, are never given in classes, as each pupil is differently constituted from every one else; each consequently needs individual exercises, and different mental exercises also to accompany them. Only through individual instruction from a competent teacher can spiritual sight and insight be developed in perfect safety. The foregoing remarks apply only to breathing exercises for esoteric development and not to exercises for physical culture, which are excellent when practiced in moderation.
The questions then arises: How may the true teacher be found, and how distinguished from the imposter? This is a momentous question, for when the aspirant has found such a teacher, he is in a safe haven and will be guarded against the great majority of dangers which beset those who through ignorance or elfish motives steer their own course and seek spiritual powers without endeavoring to develop moral fiber.
It is an axiomatic truth that men are known "by their fruits," and as esoteric scholarship demands from the pupil unselfishness of motive, it is a fair inference that the teacher must possess this attribute in a still higher degree. Thus, if a man proclaim himself a teacher and offer his knowledge for sale at so much per lesson, he falls below the standard set for the pupils. That he must obtain money to live, and similar excuses for charging for tuition, are all sophistries. Cosmic law cares for him who works with it, and any teaching offered on a commercial basis is not the highest knowledge, for that is never bartered for an actual or implied material consideration, but in every case comes to the recipient as a right, as a result of merit; and even if the true teacher desired to avoid instructing a certain person, he would be compelled by the Law of Consequence to give him the instruction when earned. Such an attitude would be unthinkable, however, for there is joy inconceivable among the Elder Brothers of humanity over every one who commences to walk along the path of life everlasting. On the other hand, anxious though they are, they may not reveal their secret to any one before he has proved by steadfastness and unselfishness, to be a safe guardian of the resulting immense power for good or evil. If we allow our passions to run riot, if avarice and greed are the mainspring of our actions, we hinder progress instead of helping our fellow man, and until we have learned to use aright the powers we have, we are not fitted to do the greater work demanded of those who have been helped by the Elder Brothers to develop their latent spiritual sight and to gain the spiritual insight which makes this faculty of value as a factor in evolution.
Therefore, "The Path of Preparation" precedes "The Way of Initiation." Persistence, devotion, observation, and discrimination are means of attainment, for by these the vital body is sensitized. By persistence and devotion the chemical and the life ethers become capable of taking care of vital functions in the dense body during sleep. A cleavage takes place between those two ethers and the two higher, the light ether and the reflecting ether. When the latter two have been sufficiently spiritualized by observation and discrimination, a simple formula given by the Teacher enables the disciple to take them out with his higher bodies at will. He is thus equipped with a vehicle of sense perception and memory. Whatever knowledge he possesses in the material world is then available in the spiritual realms, and he brings back to the physical brain, memories of his experience while without the dense body. This is necessary in order to function outside the dense body with full consciousness of both the Physical World and the Desire World, for the desire body is unorganized as yet, and did not the vital body leave its imprint on the desire body at death, we could have no consciousness in the Desire World during post-mortem existence.
Indiscriminate breathing exercises do not effect this cleavage, but tend to lift the whole vital body out of the dense body. Thus, in some cases, connections between etheric sense centers and brain cells are ruptured or strained, and insanity results. In other instances the line of cleavage occurs between the life ether and the chemical ether, and as life ether is the cementing material in assimilation and the particular avenue for specialization of solar energy, this rupture results in consumption. Only proper exercises bring about the right cleavage. When purity of life has turned the unused sex force generated in the life ether upwards through the heart, that force takes care of the limited amount of circulation necessary during sleep. Thus physical functions and spiritual development are carried on side by side along proper and harmonious lines.
Above we have the reason for the vow of celibacy taken by those who devote themselves entirely to the higher life. it is not necessary for a beginner to go into asceticism; absolute celibacy is only for the few as yet. At present, union of the sexes is the method of procreation. There is no other way to provide bodies for incoming egos, and it is the duty of everyone who is of sound mind, morals, and body to provide a vehicle and an environment for as many incoming spirits as his means and opportunities allow. We should approach the act of procreation as a sacrament; not for gratification of the senses, but in a spirit of prayer. The sex force is required but a few times in the life of any person for generation; the remainder is legitimately available for self-improvement.
Discrimination is the faculty whereby we distinguish that which is unimportant and unessential, separating the real from illusion, and the lasting from the evanescent. In ordinary life we are accustomed to think of the body as ourselves. Discrimination teaches that we are spirits and our bodies are but temporary dwelling places, instruments for use. The carpenter uses hammer and saw; they are important instruments but he does not think of himself as being either. Neither should we identify ourselves with our bodies, but learn to discriminate, to regard the body as a servant, valuable only in so far as obedient to our commands. When thus regarded, we shall find that we can readily make it do many things hitherto thought impossible. Discrimination generates the intellectual soul, and gives man his first start toward the higher life.
Observation is the use of the senses as means of obtaining information regarding the phenomena around us. Observation and action generate the conscious soul. It is of the highest importance to our development that we observe the sights and scenes around us accurately, otherwise the pictures in our conscious memory do not coincide with the automatic subconscious records. The rhythm and harmony of the dense body is disturbed in proportion to the inaccuracy of our observation during the day. Our activities during sleep partially restore harmony, but the warring vibrations from day to day and year to year are one of the causes which gradually harden and destroy our organism until it becomes unfit for the use of the spirit and must be abandoned to give the Spirit another opportunity for growth in a new and better body. In proportion as we learn to observe accurately we shall gain in health and longevity, and we shall need less rest and sleep. The latter is an important point in the present discussion, as will presently appear.
Devotion to high ideals is a curb on the animal instincts, and generates and evolves the emotional soul. Cultivation of the faculty of devotion is very essential. In some people this is the line of least resistance, and they are apt to become mystic dreamers. The energies of the desire body are then expressed as enthusiasm and religious ecstasy. There are also some people who develop abnormally the faculty of discrimination, which leads along cold intellectual lines of metaphysical speculation. In either case thee is a lack of balance, a danger. The mystic dreamer, because dominated by emotion, may become subject to all sorts of illusion. That, the intellectual esotericist will never do, but he may end in black magic if he pursues the path of knowledge for the sake of knowledge and not for service. The only safe way is to develop both head and heart.
The esotericist unfolds along intellectual lines; he searches for truth by observation, and discrimination. He observes and reasons upon what he sees. Thus he attains to knowledge, but as Paul says, "knowledge puffeth up but but love edifieth," and before his knowledge can be of the highest use in spiritual unfoldment, he must learn to feel it else he cannot live it. When he has done that he is both mystic and esotericist.
The mystic develops particularly the faculty of devotion. He feels truth without necessity of reasoning. He knows, but cannot give a reason for his faith or explain to others so as to help them. He must develop the intellectual side of his nature, to be of the highest use in the upliftment of humanity. Then intellect acts as a curb on the emotions and devotion safely guides the intellect. If we go along one line or the other exclusively, we shall have to take up the other at some future time in order to become fully rounded. It is better, therefore, to try to develop now the faculty we lack. Thus we shall make the most rapid progress toward the final goal with perfect safety.
The clarity and sharpness of a photograph depend upon the way the lens is focused by the photographer. Once set, it remains in focus. If it had life and a will of its own, if it could change its direction and focus, the pictures would become blurred. The mind is in about that position; it flits about aimlessly, literally in a mental St. Vitus' dance, and resents a curb most strenuously. But it can and must be tamed, and persistence is the chief means of bridling it. In proportion as the mind is stilled, the spirit can reflect itself in the threefold body, on the principle that the sun mirrors itself in a calm sea, but turbulent billows deflect the sun rays.
The vital body is like a mirror or, rather, like the film of a moving picture; it pictures alike the world without according to our faculty of observation, and the ideas of the indwelling spirit from within according to the clarity and training of the mind. Devotion and discrimination, otherwise emotion and intellect, decide our attitude toward these pictures, and their balanced action leads to a well rounded development. When evolved to a certain point they inevitably bring about a process of purification. The man will realize that in order to attain the goal he must lay aside whatever clogs the wheels of progress. A good mechanic aims to have the best tools and keep them in perfect order, for he knows their value in producing good work. Our bodies are tools of the Spirit, and in proportion as they are clogged they hinder its manifestation. Discrimination teaches us what hinders, and devotion to the higher life helps to eliminate undesirable habits or traits of character by superseding mere desire.
Flesh food, obtained at the cost of a fellow creature's life and suffering, and imbued with its desires and passions, besides being in a state of decay, is not a pure food, and no earnest aspirant to higher powers would choose to feed his body upon such offal. He will study how to satisfy the needs of his body with pure food. He realizes the importance of keeping his brain clear that his waking consciousness may be thoroughly open to spiritual influence, hence he will cease to use tobacco and alcohol which stimulate the brain and then leave it deadened. Moderation is a misnomer in regard to drink; all use of alcohol is excess and disastrous to the quest for spiritual attainment.
Loss of temper is subversive of inner growth; it is dissipation on a large scale of energy which may be profitably used; it poisons the body, wrecks it, and enormously hinders attainment.
Likewise do thoughts of criticism hurt us, and the aspirant will abstain from them as much as possible. Discrimination teaches us in an impersonal way what is good and evil, but gives us no feeling about it, and that is the important point. Examination of a fact, idea, or object, and a decision respecting its worth is necessary and not to be shunned, but harsh thoughts should be avoided for they form arrow-like thought forms, and as they pass outward from us they pierce and obstruct the inflow of good thoughts constantly radiated by the Elder Brothers and attracted by all good men.
Two specific exercises are given the aspirant on the path of preparation. Both lead to a development of spiritual sight and insight. One leads the direct way and will appeal most to the intellectual esotericist, but is of great value to thy Mystic, because it develops the faculty he lacks most, namely, reason. The exercise is called concentration, which produces "thought power." The other brings a similar result in a roundabout manner. It appeals most to the Mystic, but is of prime necessity to the intellectual esotericist, because it supplies a feeling for truth, which is beyond reason. That exercise is retrospection, which develops "power of devotion." Both are necessary to secure a thoroughly rounded development.
The philosophy of the attainment of spiritual sight and insight is to compel the desire body to perform the same work inside the dense body while we are fully awake, positive, and conscious as it does outside in sleep and in the post-mortem state.
There are certain currents in the desire body of every one. They are strong, well defined, and form seven great vortices in clairvoyants, but are weak, broken, and devoid of vortices in the ordinary man who cannot "see." Development of those currents and vortices leads to spiritual sight. In the daytime, when we are engrossed in material pursuits, these currents are sluggish; but as soon as man draws out of the dense body during sleep and commences the work of restoration as outlined in Lecture No. 4, the currents revive, the vortices spin and glow, for the desire body is in its native element, free from the clogging weight of the material body.
It depends upon the manner in which we have used our dense bodies in the daytime as to how long the desire body requires to perform the work of restoration of rhythm to the vital body and the dense body. If we have used our bodies strenuously during the previous day, inharmonies will, of course, be correspondingly prominent, and it will take the desire body most of the night to restore harmony and rhythm. Thus the man will be tied to his body day and night. But when he learns skill in action, controls his energy in the daytime, and ceases to waste his strength on unnecessary words and actions, when he commences to govern his temper and to stop inharmony due to incorrect observation, the desire body will not be occupied during the entire time of sleep in restoring the dense body. A part of the night may be used for work outside. If the sense centers of the desire body are sufficiently evolved, as they are with most of the intelligent class, the man may and does then slip the cable and soar into the Desire World. He takes in the sights and scenes there, though he does not usually remember them until he has effected a cleavage between the higher and lower parts of the vital body, as previously explained.
Thus we see the great importance of correct observation, of devotion to high ideals, of pure food, etc. All tend to harmonize the inner and outer vibrations. In proportion to our attainment in these directions, the time occupied in restoration is shortened and we are left free to work in the Desire World.
The evening exercise, retrospection, is of greater efficiency than any other method in advancing the aspirant upon the path of attainment. It has such a far-reaching effect that it enables one to learn now, not only the lessons of this life, but lessons ordinarily reserved for future lives.
After going to bed at night the body is relaxed and the aspirant begins to review the scenes of the day in reverse order, starting with the events of the evening, then the occurrences of the afternoon, of the forenoon, and morning. He endeavors to picture to himself each scene as faithfully as possible, seeks to reproduce before his mind's eye all that took place in each pictured scene, with the object of judging his actions, of ascertaining if his words conveyed the meaning he intended or gave a false impression, or if he overstated or understated in relating experiences to others. He reviews his moral attitude in relation to each scene. At meals, did he eat to live, or did he live to eat, to please the palate? Let him judge himself and blame where blame is due, praise where merited.
Probationers sometimes find it difficult to remain awake till the exercise has been performed. In such cases it is permissible to sit up in bed till it is possible to follow the ordinary method.
The value of retrospection is enormous, far-reaching beyond imagination. In the first place, we perform the work of restoration of harmony consciously and in a shorter time than the desire body can do during sleep, leaving a larger portion of the night available for outside work than otherwise possible. In the second place, one lives his Purgatory and First Heaven each night, and builds into the spirit as right feeling the essence of the day's experience. Thus he escapes Purgatory and First heaven each night, and builds into the spirit as right feeling the essence of the day's experience. Thus he escapes Purgatory after death and also saves time spent in the First Heaven; and last, but not least, having extracted, day by day, the essence of experiences which make for soul growth, and having built them into the Spirit, he is actually living in an attitude of mind, and developing along lines that would ordinarily have been reserved for future lives. By the faithful performance of this exercise we expunge day by day undesirable occurrences from our subconscious memory so that our sins are blotted out, our auras commence to shine with spiritual gold extracted by retrospection from the experiences of each day, and thus we attract the attention of the Teacher.
The pure shall see God, said Christ, and the Teacher will quickly open our eyes when we are fit to enter into the "Hall of Learning," the Desire World, where we obtain our first experiences of conscious life without the dense body.
Concentration, the second exercise, is performed in the morning at the very earliest moment after the aspirant awakes. He must not arise to open blinds or perform any other unnecessary act. If the body is comfortable he should at once relax and commence to concentrate. This is very important, as the Spirit has just returned from the Desire World at the moment of waking, and at that time the conscious touch with that world is more easily regained than at any other time of the day.
If the body is uncomfortable the aspirant may rise to relieve it ere he concentrates, but much of the efficacy of the concentration is lost by the delay.
We remember from Lecture No. 4, that during sleep the currents of the desire body flow, and its vortices move and spin with enormous rapidity. But as soon as it enters the dense body its currents and vortices are almost stopped by the dense matter and the nerve currents of the vital body which carry messages to and from the brain. It is the object of this exercise to still the dense body to the same degree of inertia and insensibility as in sleep, although the Spirit within is perfectly awake, alert, and conscious. Thus we make a condition where the sense centers of the desire body can begin to revolve while inside the dense body.
Concentration is a word that puzzles many and carries meaning to but few, so we will endeavor to make its significance clear. The dictionary gives several definitions, all applicable to our idea. One is "to draw to a center," another from chemistry, "to reduce to extreme purity and strength by removing valueless constituents." Applied to our problem, one of the above definitions tells us that if we draw our thoughts to a center, a point, we increase their strength on the principle that the power of the sun's rays is increased when focused to a point by means of magnifying glass. By eliminating from our mind for the time being all other subjects, our whole thought power is available for use in attaining the object or solving the problem on which we are concentrating; we may become so absorbed in our subject that if a cannon were fired above our heads we would not hear it. People may become so lost in a book that they are oblivious to all else, and the aspirant to spiritual sight must acquire the faculty of becoming equally absorbed in the idea he is concentrating upon, so that he may shut out the world of sense from his consciousness and give his whole attention to the spiritual world. When he learns to do that, he will see the spiritual side of an object or idea illuminated by spiritual light, and thus he will obtain a knowledge of the inner nature of things undreamt of by a worldly man.
When he has reached that point of abstraction the sense centers of the desire body commence to revolve slowly within the dense body, and will thus make a place for themselves. This in time will become more and more defined, and it will require less and less effort to set them going.
The subject of concentration may be any high and lofty ideal, but should preferably be of such a nature that it takes the aspirant out of the ordinary things of sense, beyond time and space; and there is no better formula than the first five verses of St. John's Gospel. Taking them as subject, sentence by sentence, morning after morning, will in time give the aspirant a wonderful insight into the beginning of our universe and the method of creation — an insight far beyond any book learning.
After a time, when the aspirant has learned to unwaveringly hold before him for about five minutes the idea upon which he is concentrating, he may try to suddenly drop the idea and leave a blank. Think of nothing else, simply wait to see if anything enters the vacuum. In time the sights and scenes of the Desire World will fill the vacant space. After the aspirant has become used to that, he may demand this, that, or the other thing to come before him. It will come and then he may investigate it.
The main point, however, is that by following the above instructions the aspirant is purifying himself; his aura commences to shine and will without fail draw the attention of a Teacher who will depute someone to give help when required for the next step in advancement. Even if months or years should go by and bring no visible result, rest assured that no effort has been in vain; the Great Teachers see and appreciate our efforts. They are just as anxious to have our assistance as we are to work. They may see reasons which make it inexpedient for us to take up work for humanity in this life or at this time. Sometime the hindering conditions will pass, and we shall be admitted to the light where we can see for ourselves.
An ancient legend says that digging for treasure must be done in the stillness of night and in perfect silence; to speak one word until the treasure is safely excavated will inevitably cause it to disappear. That is a mystic parable which has reference to the search for spiritual illumination. If we gossip or recount to others the experiences of our concentration hour we lose them; they can not bear vocal transmission and will fade into nothingness, until by meditation we have extracted from them a full knowledge of the underlying cosmic laws. Then the experience itself will not be recounted, for we shall see that it is but the husk which hid the kernel of worth. The law is of universal value, as will be at once apparent, for it will explain facts in life, teach us how to take advantage of certain conditions and to avoid others. The law may be freely stated at the discoverer's discretion for the benefit of humanity. The experience which revealed the law will then appear in its true light, as of only passing interest and unworthy of further notice. Therefore the aspirant should regard everything that happens during concentration as sacred and should keep it strictly to himself.
Finally, beware of regarding the exercises as a burdensome task. Estimate them at their true worth; they are our highest privileges. Only when thus regarded can we do them justice and reap full benefit from them.
In the Rosicrucian movement the Elder Brothers distinguish between three classes:
First, students, those who are merely studying the Philosophy.
People of various denominations enter educational institutions such as Harvard or Yale, and study mythology, psychology, and comparative religion there without prejudice to their religious affiliations. Students may enroll with us on the very same basis. Anyone is eligible who is not a hypnotist, or professionally engaged as a medium, palmist, or astrologer.
Second, probationers, who are students but who aspire to firsthand knowledge to fit themselves for service. To these, the General Secretary will furnish a pledge wherein the aspirant promises himself faithfully to perform the two exercises, to keep a daily record of his performance, and send that record monthly to Headquarters. The term of probation is at least five years, and has for its purpose to test the earnestness and persistence of the aspirant, and to give him the opportunity to purify himself before taking up the more direct methods of training incident to discipleship. The report is also designed to be a help to the aspirant in the performance of the exercises. It is human nature to want to make as good a showing as possible, and the aspirant will thus try to do better, knowing that his work is being inspected.
When a person has been a student of the Rosicrucian teachings for at least two years and has become so convinced of the verity thereof that he is prepared to sever his connection with all other esoteric or religious orders — the Christian churches and fraternal orders excepted — he may assume the Obligation which admits him to the degree of Probationer.
We do not mean to insinuate by the foregoing that all other schools of esotericism are of no account — far from it. Many roads lead to Rome, but we shall attain with much less effort if we follow one of them than if we zig-zag from path to path. Our time and energy are limited in the first place and are still further curtailed by family and social duties not to be neglected for self-development. It is to husband the minimum of energy which we may legitimately expend upon ourselves, and to avoid waste of the scanty moments at our disposal, that resignation from all other orders is insisted upon by the leaders.
The world is an aggregate of opportunities, but to take advantage of any of them we must possess efficiency in a certain line of endeavor. Development of our spiritual powers will enable us to help or harm our weaker brothers. It is only justifiable when efficiency in service to humanity is the object.
The Rosicrucian method of attainment differs from other systems in one especial particular: It aims, even at the start, to emancipate the pupil from dependence upon others, to make him self-reliant in the very highest degree, so that he may be able to stand alone under all circumstances and cope with all conditions. Only one who is thus strongly poised can help the weak.
When a number of people meet in a class or circle for self-development along negative lines, results are usually achieved in a short time on the principle that it is easier to drift with the tide than to breast the current. The medium is not master of his actions, however, but a slave of a spirit control. Hence such gatherings must be shunned by Probationers.
Even classes which meet in positive attitude of mind are not advised by the Elder Brothers, because the latent powers of all members are massed and visions of the inner worlds obtained by anyone there are partly due to the faculties of others. The heat of coal in the center of a fire is enhanced by that of surrounding coals, and the clairvoyant produced in a circle, be it ever so positive, is a hothouse plant, too dependent himself to be entrusted with the care of others.
Therefore each Probationer in the Rosicrucian school performs his exercises in the seclusion and privacy of his room. Results may be obtained more slowly by this system, but when they appear, they will be manifest as powers cultivated by himself, usable independently of all others. Besides, the Rosicrucian methods build character at the same time that they develop spiritual faculties, and thus safeguard the pupil against yielding to temptation to prostitute divine powers for material gain.
The foregoing does not include giving up the whole time of the candidate to spiritual endeavor. If no more time can be given, five minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes at night will suffice. In fact, to give up any time to development of spiritual faculties which should be used in legitimate material endeavor would be decidedly wrong. We must do our full duty in the material world before we may serve in the spiritual realms. Whoever is faithless to his earthly duty cannot be expected to be faithful in spiritual work.
When sixty consecutive reports have been sent in the candidate may apply for individual instruction, which will be given if possible.
Third, disciples, who have completed the term of probation and been accepted by the Elder Brothers, are given individual instruction. Tuition is free.
During the past few years since we first began to disseminate the Rosicrucian teachings(circa 1909), they have spread over the whole civilized world. They are studied with avidity from the Cape of Good Hope to the Arctic Circle and beyond; they have found response in the hearts of all classes of people. They are known in the snow-clad huts of Alaska and in government houses where a tropical wind unfurls the British Lion. In the capitals of Turkish autocracy and American democracy alike, our adherents may be found, all in lively correspondence and close touch with our movement and working for promulgation of the deeper truths concerning Life and Being which are helping them.
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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