Vanity over one's spiritual development admits elementals to his aura which often bring about his downfall. Therefore the Bible is scientifically correct when it warns us against pride. This is particularly dangerous after we have started on the Path of Attainment. The aspirant's vehicles are sensitized on his path by the pure living which he practices and by the exercises which he pursues. He must be much more careful, therefore, than the ordinary person to avoid sensuality in any form, because it will pull him down with greater rapidity than it will others.
Among the first exercises which the aspirant to first-hand knowledge must practice is that of keen observation of details. It is true of the ordinary person that he has eyes but does not see. The aspirant must practice seeing everything about him with great minuteness; otherwise there will be conflict between the conscious records in the mind and the subconscious record in the vital body, and this will produce inharmony. As we pass along a street, we can improve our observation by noting distinctly all the houses and their details, including the lawns, the style of architecture, et cetera; later on we should endeavor to recall these details. By so doing we shall increase our power of observation to a marked degree.
Concentration and positive thought are the next mental powers to be developed. In practicing these we must hold our mind to a point and not let it wander. Thought wandering is one of the most destructive processes in which we can indulge. Thought wandering destroys thought power; concentration builds it up. Positive thought will ordinarily accomplish its object. Negative thought is weak and can accomplish but little in any line. Positive thought will eventually give us minds capable of accomplishing wonders in any field of endeavor, and which will make us a success. Negative thought opens up our auras to entities of an undesirable nature, and if continued long enough we may become subject to their domination and helpless to protect ourselves from them. Therefore practice concentration at all times.
Higher exercises for the aspirant are those of meditation and discrimination, contemplation and adoration. Information regarding these can be obtained from The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, and their study is highly recommended. The systematic repetition of spiritual truths builds them into the vital body and gradually makes them a part of the character if they are fortified by works. By this means one can make his character whatever he wishes it to be; and character is destiny.
The aspirant often retards his progress by anxiety, which is a form of fear. This creates fear elementals in the mind. The aspirant should do the things which he knows to be right and then have no anxiety for the future. "Perfect love casteth out fear." Therefore if we have a tendency to fear of any kind, we can build up our finer vehicles by the practice of love in one way or another so that eventually we shall be fear-proof. This is necessary before we develop our esoteric powers to any great degree, because unless we are masters of fear, it is not safe for us to expose ourselves on the invisible planes, and it is not safe for us to travel on those planes away from the protection of our physical bodies. While we are still subject to fear, we are subject to the malevolent activities of beings on the invisible planes who would do us harm. The very fact that we feel fear proves that we are not fully capable of defending ourselves against these entities. Fear, therefore, is the first great enemy which the esoteric student must overcome.
Some mystic students fall into the error of developing spiritual sight through the aid of drugs, crystal gazing, or wrong breathing exercises. In time disease or obsession is likely to result from these practices, because they are negative in character. They develop the spiritual sight through the counter-clockwise vibration instead of the clockwise, and thereby those who practice them open themselves to the lower desire world and the depraved entities which live there. Eastern breathing exercises, not being adapted to the Westerner, in some cases lift the whole vital body out of the physical, rupturing the connection between the etheric sense centers and the brain cells, causing insanity. In other cases they produce a cleavage between the life and chemical ethers, resulting in consumption (tuberculosis). Our students are earnestly advised against the slightest beginnings of these practices. Deep hygienic breathing, however, is good and is recommended.
Finally, equipoise on all planes is the great object to be gained by the esoteric student. This is threefold, consisting, first, of mental concentration; second, of emotional balance; third, of spiritual power. But even when this has been obtained, even when the higher vision has been developed and we are able to leave our bodies consciously, we do not possess omniscience. We are then only at the point of beginning our education in the spiritual worlds. We must learn there exactly as we learn here by a long course of patient work and patient applications to the problems of our new environment. We can see, therefore, how foolish it is to follow after teachers who have developed perhaps only one of the three grades of spiritual sight, and that one perhaps imperfectly. We can also see how foolish it is to indulge in hero worship relative to any one on account of his clairvoyant development, or to take everything which he may give out as being unqualifiedly true and worthy of acceptance. Everything which is obtained from the inner world through any grade of spiritual sight must be subjected to the tests of logic and common sense, and if it cannot pass these tests, we are justified either in rejecting it or, at least, in investigating further before accepting it.
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1. How only may esoteric powers be developed safely?
2. What is the effect upon the aspirant of spiritual vanity?
3. Why must the esoteric student guard particularly against sensuality?
4. Why should we cultivate keen observation?
5. Contrast positive thought with negative thought. Why is the former advisable?
6. What are the esoteric results of anxiety and fear?
7. Describe the effects of drugs, crystal gazing, and wrong breathing exercises.
8. How must first-hand spiritual knowledge be obtained?