*This is a text-version of an episode of the Church of Illuminism’s Evolution Revolution Podcast.
Whatever misinterpretation ancient or modern ignorance may have given to the word Magic, its only true significance is The Highest Science, or Wisdom, based upon knowledge and practical experience.
If you doubt whether there is any such thing as Magic, and if you desire practical illustration about it, open your eyes and look around you. See the world, the animals, and the trees, and ask yourself whether they could have come into existence by any other power than by the magic power of nature. Magical power is not a supernatural power, if by the term “supernatural” you mean a power which is outside, beyond, or locally above nature. To suppose the existence of such a power is an absurdity and a superstition, opposed to all our experience, for we see that all organisms, vegetable and animal ones, grow by the action pf internal forces acting outwardly, and not by having something added to their substance from the outside. A seed does not become a tree, nor a child a man, by having substance added to its organism by some outside workman, or like a house which is built by putting stones on the top of each other, but living things grow by the action of an internal power, acting from a center within the form. To this center flow the influences coming from the universal storehouse of matter and motion, and from there they radiate again towards the periphery, and perform that labour which builds up the living organism.
But what else can such a power be, except a spiritual power, because it penetrates to the very center of material things. It acts to a certain order, and is builds up organisms according to a certain order, and is therefore superior to blind mechanical force. It cannot be a mere mechanical force, for we know that a mechanical force ceases as soon as the impulse which it becomes manifest die. It cannot be a chemical force, for chemical action ceases when the chemical combination of the substances which were to combine has taken place. It must therefore be a living power, and as life cannot be a product of a dead form, it can be nothing else but the power of the One Life, acting within the life centers of the forms.
Nature is a magician, every plant, animal, and every man is magician, who uses his powers unconsciously and instinctively to build up his own organism, or, in other words, every living being is an organism in which the magic power of the spirit in nature acts, and if a man should attain the knowledge how to control this power of life, and to employ it consciously, instead of merely submitting unconsciously to its influence, then he would be a magician, and could control the processes of life in his own organism, and perhaps in that of other beings.
Now the question is. Can any man obtain such a power as to control the processes of life? The answer to this question depends on what you mean by the term “man”. If you mean by “man” an intellectual animal. Such as we meet every day in the streets, then the answer is No! for the majority of the men and women of our present generation, including our greatest scientific lumens, know absolutely nothing about their own inner nature or about the universal power of the One Life, and many of them have not even made up their minds whether or not they will believe in the existence of their own soul. They can neither see it nor feel it objectively, and therefore they do not know what to make of it.
But if you mean by “man” that intelligent principle, which is active within the organism of man, and which constitutes him a human being, and by whose action he becomes a being very distinct from and superior to animals in human or animal form, then the answer is: Yes, for the divine power which acts within the organism of man is the same and identical power which acts within the center of nature. It is an internal power of man, and belongs to man’s true self, and if man once knows all the powers which belong to his essential constitution, and knows how to use them, then he may enter from the passive into the active state, and employ these powers himself.
Absurd as it may seem, it is nevertheless a logical consequence drawn from the fundamental truths about the constitution of man that if a man could control the universal power of life acting within himself, he might prolong the life of his organism as long as it pleased him, if he could control it, and new all the laws of his nature, he might render it dense or vaporous, concentrate it to a small point, or expand it, so as to occupy a great deal of space. Verily, truth is stranger than fiction, and we might see it, if we could only rise above the narrow conceptions and prejudices which we have inherited and acquired by education and sensual observation.
The most strange things happen continually in nature, and hardly attract our attention. They do not seem strange to us, although we do not understand them, merely because we are accustomed to see them everyday. Who would be so “foolish” as to believe that a tree could grow out of a seed – as there is evidently no tree in the seed – if his experience had not told him that tress grow out of seeds in spite of all arguments to the contrary? Who would believe that a flower would grow out of a plant, if he had not seen it, for observation and reason show that there is no flower in the stalk? Nevertheless, flowers grow, and cannot be disputed away.
Everywhere in nature, the action of a universal spiritual law is manifest, but we cannot see the law itself. Everywhere we see the manifestations of wisdom, but those who seek for the origin of wisdom within their own brains will seek for it in vain.
The art of Magic is the art of employing invisible or so-called spiritual agencies to obtain certain visible results. such agencies are not necessarily invisible entities, flitting about in vacant space, ready to come at the command of anyone who has learned certain incantations and ceremonies, but they consist principally in the unseen but nevertheless powerful influences of the Emotions and the Will, of desires and passions, thought and imagination, love and hate, fear and hope, fear and hope, faith and doubt. They are the powers of what is called the Soul, they are employed everywhere and by everybody every day, consciously or unconsciously, willing or unwillingly, and while those that cannot control or resist such influences, but are controlled by them, are passive instruments, “Mediums” through which such unseen powers act, and often their unwilling slaves, those who are able to guide and control such influences by gaining control over themselves, are, in proportion to their controlling capacity, active, and powerful, and true Magicians, and may employ their powers for good or for evil. We see, therefore, that with the exception of irresponsible persons, everyone who has any will power is, in so far as he exercises that will power, an active Magician, a white magician if he employs them for good, a black magician if he uses them for the purposes of evil.
There are people in the East and some in the West, through whom extraordinary feats, such as are usually classified as “Magic”, are performed, but it does not logically follow that such people are therefore conscious Magicians, it only shows that the power which acts through their organism, is a magic power, and the supposed “Magician” may be merely the instrument through which invisible intelligent powers perform such feats, and he may not even know who or what such a power is.
We all cannot honestly say “we have life”, for life does not belong to us, and we cannot control or monopolize it. All we can say without arrogance and presumption is, that we are instruments through which the universal One Life manifests itself in the form of a human being. We are all mediums, through which the universal One Life acts. Only when we know our own selves and can control the life principle within ourselves, can we become our own Masters. He who thinks that he has any power whatever of his own, thinks foolish for all the powers he has are lent him by nature, or – more correctly speaking – by that eternal spiritual power, which acts in and from the centre of nature, and which men have called “God”, because they have found it to be the source of all good, the one Reality within the universe and within every being.
No one will deny that Man, besides having physical powers, is also temporarily endowed with mental and even spiritual energies. We love, respect, or obey a person, not on account of his superior bodily strength, but on account of his intellectual and moral worth, or while we are under the spell of some real or imaginary authority, that we may believe him to possess. A king or a bishop has, as a person, not necessarily any more physical power than his lackery or butler, and must make himself known before he will be obeyed, a captain may be bodily the weakest man in his company and still his soldiers obey him. We love beauty, harmony, and sublimity, not on account of their usefulness for material purposes, but because they satisfy a corresponding inner sense, which does not belong to the physical plane, civilization gains ground, more by moral and intellectual influences than by the power of the bayonet, and it is a true saying, that in our age the pen is mightier than the sword.
What would be a world without the magic power of love of beauty and harmony? How would a world look if made after a pattern furnished by modern science? A world in which the universal power of truth was not recognized could be nothing else but a world of maniacs and filled with hallucinations. In such a world art and poetry could not exist, justice would become a convenience, honesty be equivalent with imbecility, to be truthful would be to be foolish, and the idol of “Self” the only god worthy of any consideration.
Magic may be said to be that science which deals with the mental and moral powers of man, and shows what control he may exercise over himself and others. In order to study the powers of man it is necessary to investigate what Man is, and what relation he bears to the universe, and such an investigation, if properly conducted, will show that the elements which compose the essential man are identical with those we find in the universe; that is to say, that the universe is the Macrocosm, and man – its true copy – the Microcosm
Microcosmic man and the Macrocosm of nature are one. How could it be possible that the Macrocosm should contain that man should have something within the Macrocosm or that man should have something within his organism, which cannot be found within the grand organism of nature? Is not man the child of nature, and can there be anything within his constitution which does not come from his eternal father and mother? If man’s organization contained something unnatural, he would be a monster, and nature would spew him out. Everything contained in nature can be found within the organism of man, and exists therein either in a germinal or developed state, either latent or active, and may be perceived by him who possesses the power of self-knowledge.
We are born into a world in which we find ourselves surrounded by physical objects. There seems to be still another – a subjective – world within us, capable of receiving and retaining impressions from the outside world. Each one is a world of its own, with a relation to space different from that of the other. Each has its days of sunshine and its nights of darkness, which are not regulated by the days and nights of the other, each has its clouds and its storms, and shapes and forms of its own.
As we grow up we listen to the teachings of science to try to find out the true nature of these worlds and the laws that govern them, but physical science deals only with forms, and forms are continually changing. She gives only a partial solution of the problems of the objective world, and leaves us in regard to the subjective world almost entirely in the dark. Modern science classifies phenomena and describes events, but to describe how an event takes place. To discover causes, which are in themselves the effects of unknown primal causes, is only to evade one difficulty by substituting another. Science describes some of the attributes of things, but the first causes which brought these attributes into existence are unknown to her, and will remain so, until her powers of perception will penetrate into the unseen.
Besides scientific observation there seems to be still another way to obtain knowledge of the mysterious side of nature. The religious teachers of the world claim to have sounded the depths which the scientists cannot reach. Their doctrines are supposed by many to have been received through certain divine or angelic revelations, proceeding from a supreme, infinite omnipresent, and yet personal, and therefore limited external Being, the existence of which has never been proved. Although the existence of such a being is – to say the least – exceedingly doubtful, yet men in all countries have bowed down in terror before its supposed dictates, ready to tear each other’s throats at a sign of its supposed command, and willing to lay down their money, their lives, and even their honour at the feet of those who are looked upon as the confidants or deputies of a god. Men and women are willing to make themselves miserable and unhappy in life for the purpose of obtaining some reward after they live no more. Some waste their life in the anticipation of joys in a life of which they do not know whether or not it exists; some die for fear of losing that which they do not possess. Thousands are engaged in teaching others that which themselves do not know, and in spite of a very great number of religious systems there is comparatively little religion at present upon the Earth.
The term Religion is derived from the Latin world “religere”, which may be properly translated “to bind back,” or to “relate”. Religion, in the true sense of the term, implies that science which examines the link which exists between man and the cause from which he originated, or in other words, which deals with the relation which exists between man and God, for the true meaning of the term “God” is Supreme First Cause, and Nature is the effect of its manifestation. True religion is therefore a science far higher than a science based upon mere sensual perception, but it cannot be in conflict with what is true science. Only what is false in science must necessarily be in conflict with what is true in religion, and what is false in religion is in conflict with what is true in science. True religion and true science are ultimately one and the same thing, and therefore equally true, a religion that clings to illusions, and an illusionary science, are equally false, and the greater the obstinacy with which they cling to their illusions the more pernicious is their effect.
A distinction should be made between “religion” and “religionism”, between “science” and “scientism”, between “mystic science” and “mysticism”.
The highest aspect of Religion is practically the union of man with the Supreme First Cause, from which his essence emanated ion the beginning.
Its second aspect teaches theoretically the relations existing between that Great First Cause and Man, in other words, the relations existing between the Macrocosm and Microcosm.
In its lowest aspect religionism consists of the adulation of dead forms, of the worshipping of fetiches, of fruitless attempts to wheedle oneself into the favour of some imaginary deity, to persuade “God” to change his mind, and to try to obtain some favours which is not in accordance with justice.
Science in her highest aspect is the real knowledge of the fundamental laws of Nature, and is therefore a spiritual science, based upon the knowledge of the spirit within one’s own self.
In its lower aspect it is a knowledge of external phenomena, and the secondary or superficial causes which produce the latter, and which our modern scientism mistakes for the final cause.
In its lowest aspect scientism is a system of observation and classification of external appearances, of the causes of which we know nothing.
Religionism and Scientism are continually subject to changes. They have been created by illusions, and die when the illusions are over. True Science and true Religion are one, and if realized by practice, they form, with the truth they contain, the three-lateral pyramid, whose foundations are upon the earth, and whose point reaches into the kingdom of heaven.
Mystic science inn its true meaning is spiritual knowledge, that is to say, the soul knowledge of spiritual and “super-sensual” things, perceived by the spiritual powers of the soul. These powers are germinally contained in every human organization, but only few have developed them sufficiently to be of any practical use.
Mysticism belongs to the vapoury speculations of the brain. It is a hankering after illusions, a desire to pry into divine mysteries which the material mind cannot comprehend, a carving to satisfy curiosity in regard to what an animal ought not to know. It is the realm of fancies, of dreams, the paradise of ghost-seers, and of spiritistic tom fooleries of all kinds.
But which is the true religion and the true science? There is no doubt that a definite relationship exists between Man and the cause that called humanity into existence, and a true religion or a true science must be the one which teaches the true terms of that relation. If we take a superficial view of the various religious systems of the world, we find them all apparently contradicting each other. We find a great mass of apparent superstitions and absurdities heaped upon a grain of something that may be true. We admire the ethics and moral doctrines of our favorite religious system, and we take its theological rubbish in our bargain, forgetting that the ethics of nearly all religions are essentially the same, and that the rubbish which surrounds them is not real religion. It is evidently an absurdity to believe that any system could be true, unless it contained the truth. But it is equally evident that a thing cannot be true and false at the same time.
The truth can only be one. The truth never changes; but we ourselves change, and as we change so changes our aspect of the truth. The various religious systems of the world cannot be unnatural products. They are all the natural outgrowth of man’s spiritual evolution upon this globe, and they differ only in so far as the conditions under which they came into existence differed at the time when they began to exist, while his science has been artificially built by facts collected from external observation. Each intellectual human being, except one blinded by a prejudice, recognizes the fact that each of the great religious of the world contains certain truths, which we intuitively know to be true, and as there can be true, and as there can only be one fundamental truth, so all these religions are branches of the same tree, even if the forms in which the truth manifests itself are not alike. The sunshine is everywhere the same, only its intensity differs in different localities. In one place it induces the growth of palms, in another of mushrooms, but there is only one Sun in our system. The processes going on the physical plane have their analogies in the spiritual realm, for there is only one Nature, one Law.
If one person quarrels with another about religious opinions, he cannot have the true religion, nor can he have any true knowledge, because true religion is the realization of truth. The only true religion is the religion of universal Love, this love is the recognition of one’s own divine universal self. Love is an element of divine Wisdom, and there can be no wisdom without love. Each species of birds in the woods sings a different tune, but the principle which causes them to sing is the same in each. They do not quarrel with each other, because one can sing better than the rest. Moreover, religious disputations, with their resulting animosities, are the most useless things in the world; for no one can combat the darkness by fighting it with a stick: the only way to remove darkness is to kindle a light, the only way to dispel spiritual ignorance is to let the light of knowledge that comes from the center of love shine into every heart.
All religious are based upon internal truth, all have an outside ornamentation which varies in character in the different systems, but all have the same foundation of truth, and if we compare the various systems with one another, looking below the surface of exterior forms, we find that this truth is in all religious systems one and the same. In all this, truth has been hidden beneath a more or less allegorical language, impersonal and invisible powers have been personified and represented in images carved in stones or wood, and the formless in letters, and pictures and images are the means by which truths may be brought to the attention of the unripe Mind. They are to the grown-up children of all nations what picture-books are to small children who are not yet able to read, and it would be as unreasonable to deprive grown-up children of their images before they are able to read in their own hearts, as it would be to take away the picture-books from little children and to ask them to read printed books, which they cannot yet understand.
Very uninteresting and insignificant would be the stories contained in the Bible, and in other religious books, if the personal events described therein were referring merely to certain occurrences having happened in the lives of certain individuals who lived some thousands of years ago, and whose biography can seriously interest no one today. What do we care now about the family affairs of a man called Adam or Abraham? Why should we want to be interested in knowing how many legitimate or illegitimate children the Jewish Patriarchs had, and what became of them? What is it to us whether or not a man by the name of Jonah was thrown into the water and swallowed by a whale? What happens today in the various countries of Europe is more interesting and important for us to know than what happened at the court of Zerubabel or Nebuchodonoser.
But fortunately for the Bible and – if we only knew how to read it – fortunately for us, the stories contained therein are by no means merely histories of persons who lived in ancient times, but are allegories and myths having always a very deep meaning, of which our expounders of the Bible, as well as its critics, usually know very little.
The men and the women of the old and new “testament” are much more than mere persons supposed to have existed at that time. They are personifications of eternally active spiritual forces, of which physical science does not even know that they exist, and their histories give an account of their action, their interrelations within the Macrocosm and its counterpart the Microcosm, they teach the history of the evolution of mankind in its spiritual aspect.
If our natural philosophers would study the Bible and the ancient religious books of the East, in their esoteric and spiritual aspects, they might learn a great many things which they desire to know. They might learn to find out what are the true powers of the still sleeping “Inner Man,” which are required to produce occult phenomena at will, they might find instruction how to transmute lead or iron into pure gold, and to transform animals into gods.
But it is a truth, based upon natural laws, that man can see nothing except that which exists I n his mind. If a man closes his eyes, he sees nothing, and if his minds is filled with illusions, he will have no room for the truth, and the deepest of symbols will be pictures without meaning to him.
If our children – the big ones as well as the little ones – are only looking at the pictures without learning the text, they are apt to grow to believe the pictorial representations to be the very things they are intended to represent, they become accustomed to forget that forms are only illusions, and that formless realities cannot be seen. It is so much easier to believe than to think. Children should not linger over their picture-books so long as to neglect their higher education. Humanity has outgrown the infancy of its present cycle, and asks for more intellectual food; the age of superstition is passing away, and the demand is not for opinions but for knowledge, and knowledge cannot be obtained without an effort. If we examine the various religious systems we may find a great deal of truth, but we cannot recognize it without knowledge, and real knowledge can only be obtained by practical experience. The expressed opinion of one person can only give rise to conviction in another, if corroborated by the same or a similar experience of the latter. A person can only truly believe that which he knows himself, and he can only actually know himself that which he has experienced himself.
There is a great difference between believing and understanding the truth. We may believe the truth with our heart and reject it with our brain. On other words, we may feel the truth intuitively, and not see it intellectually. If our present generation would cultivate the faculty of knowing the truth by heart, and afterwards examine that which they know by means of their intellect, we would soon have a far better and happier state of society everywhere. But the great curse of our age is that the intellectual; faculties reject the truth ion the heart. The science of the brain suppresses the knowledge of the soul, and tries to grasp that which only the heart can touch.
Men, instead of living in the sanctuary of the temples which they inhabit, are continually absent from there, and reside on the garret under the roof, looking out through the windows of the garret after scientific theories and other illusions of life. Day and night they stand there and watch, careful that none of the passing illusions may escape their observation, and while their attention is absorbed by these idle shows, the thieves enter the house and the sanctuary without being seen, and teal away the treasures. Then at the time when the house is destroyed, and death appears, the soul returns to the heart and finds it empty and desolate, and all the illusions that occupied the brain during life fly away, and man is left poor indeed, because he has not perceived the truth in his heart.
The real object of a religious system should therefore be to teach a way by which a person mat developed the power to perceive the truth himself, independent of anybody’s opinion. To ask a man to believe in the opinion expressed by another, and to remain satisfied with such a belief, is to ask him to remain ignorant, and to trust to another person more than to his own experience. A person without knowledge can have no real conviction, no true faith. His adoption of one particular theory or system depends on the circumstances under which he is born, or brought up, or surrounded. He is most liable to adopt that system which his parents or neighbors have inherited or adopted, and if he changes from one to another, he, generally speaking does so from mere sentimentalism, or on account of some selfish consideration, expecting to obtain some benefit to himself by that change. From a spiritual standpoint he will gain nothing under such circumstance, because to approach the truth, he must love the truth for its own sake, and not on account of the personal advantage that it may bring, from an intellectual standpoint he will gain little or nothing by exchanging one superstition for another. The only way by which Man can hope to arrive at the truth is to love the truth on account of its being the truth, and to free his mind from all prejudices and predilections, so that its light may penetrate into the mind.
What is the religionism of today, but a religion of fear? Men do not wish to avoid vice, but they wish to avoid the punishment for having indulged in vice. Their experience teaches them that the laws of nature are unchangeable, but nevertheless they continue to act against the universal law. They claim to believe in a God who is unchangeable, and yet they implore his assistant if they desire to break his own law. When will they rise up to the true conception that the only possible God is that universal power which acts in the law, which is itself the law of the spirit in nature, and cannot be changed? To break the law is identical with breaking the God within ourselves, and the only way to obtain forgiveness after he is broken is to restore the supremacy of the law, and to create a new God within ourselves.
It may be well to study the opinions of others, and to store them up in the book of our memory, nut we should not believe them to constitute self-knowledge. Even the teachings of the world’s greatest Adepts, unimpeachable as they may be, can only instruct us, but give us no real knowledge. They can show the way, but we must take ourselves the steps on the ladder. Were we recognize their dictum as the final aim, to be accepted without any further internal investigation, we should again fall back into a system of belief for the sake of authority. Knowledge gives strength, doubt paralyses the will. A man who does not believe that he is able to walk will not be able to walk as long as he does not believe, a man who knows by experience who can command himself will be able to do so. He who can command himself can command that which is below him, because the low is controlled by the high, and there is nothing higher than Man having obtained a perfect knowledge of Self.
The knowledge of Self is identical with Self-knowledge, with one’s own Soul knowledge independent of any dogmas or doctrines, no matter from what external authority they may proceed. If we study the teachings of any supposed authority external to our own selves, we at best know what the opinion of such an authority is in regard to the truth, but we do not necessarily arrive thereby at a self-knowledge of the truth. If we, for instance, learn what Christ taught about God, we are only informed of what he knew or believed to know, but we cannot know God for all that, unless we awaken to a realization of God’s presence within our own heart. The knowledge of even the wisest of all men, if communicated to us, will be to us nothing more than an opinion, as long as it is not experienced within our own selves. As long as we cannot penetrate within the soul of Man, we can know little more about him but his corporeal form, but how could we penetrate within the soul of another as long as we do not know our own? Therefore, the beginning of all real knowledge is the knowledge of Self, the knowledge of the Soul and not the vagaries of the brain.
Does external science confer any true knowledge of Man? The range of her power of observation is limited by the perceptive power of the physical senses, assisted by physical instruments, she has no means to investigate that which transcends physical sense, she cannot enter the temple of the unseen, she only knows the external form in which the reality dwells. She only knows what man appears to be, but not what he is, she knows nothing whatever of the essential and real man, and sometimes denies his existence. In vain shall we look to her for the solution of the problem, which thousands of years ago the Egyptian Sphinx propounded.
Do the popular religious systems confer any true knowledge of Man? The conception which the average theologian has of the mysterious being called Man is as narrow as that of the professor of modern science. He looks upon man as a personal being, isolated from other personal beings around whose infinite little personality centers the interests of the infinitely great. He forgets that the founders of the principal religious systems taught that the original and essential man was a universal power, that the real man is a whole and cannot be divided, and that the personal form of man is only the temporary temple in which the spirit dwells.*
The misconceptions arising from ignorance of the true nature of Man are the cause that the popular religious opinions held by the average theologians in Christian and Pagan countries are based upon selfishness, contrary to the spirit of that which true religion teaches. “Christiana” and “Heathens” clamour for some benefit to be conferred by some imaginary person upon that insignificant soap bubble, called the “personal self,” either here or in the hereafter. Each one such short-sighted nothings wants to be saved personally himself above all, the salvation of the rest is a matter of second consideration. They expect to obtain some benefit which they do not deserve, to wheedle themselves into the favour of some personal deity, argue their case before God, cheat the “devil” of his just dues, and smuggle their imperfections into the kingdom of heaven.
The only reasonable object which any external religious system can possibly have, is to elevate man from a lower state to a higher one, in which he can form a better conception of his true dignity as a member of the human family. If there is any possibility of imparting to a man a knowledge of his true self, the churches are the places where such a knowledge should be imparted, but to accomplish this the claims of the truth should predominate over those of the form, the interests of religion and the interests of the “church” would have to cease to be interchangeable terms, and the church should again be founded upon the rock of self-knowledge, instead of the craving to obtain some selfish personal benefit in this world or in the problematical hereafter.
He who is led by selfish considerations cannot enter a heaven where personal considerations do not exist. He who does not care for heaven but is contented where he is, is already in heaven, while the discontented will in vain clamour for it. To be without personal desires is to be free and happy. “Heaven” can mean nothing else but a state in which freedom and happiness exist. The man who performs beneficial acts induced by a hope of reward is not happy unless the reward is obtained, and if his reward is obtained his happiness ends. There can be no permanent rest and happiness as long as there is some work to be done and not accomplished, and the fulfilment of duties brings its own reward.
A man who performs a good act with the hope of reward is not free. He is a servant of Self, and works for the benefit of Self and not for his God. It is, therefore, not the power of God which will reward him, he can only expect that reward from his own temporary surroundings.
The man who performs evil acts, induced by a selfish motive, is not free. He who desires evil and is restrained by fear is not his own master. He who recognizes the supreme power of the universe in his own heart has become free. He whose will is swayed by his personal self is the slave of his person, but he who has conquered that so-called “self” enters the higher life and becomes a power.
The science of Life consists in subduing the low and elevating the high. Its first lesson is how to free oneself from the love of self, the first angel of evil, or, according to Edwin Arnold.
“The sin of self, who in the universe
As in a mirror sees her fond face shown,
And crying ‘I,’ would have the world say ‘I,’
And all the things perish so if she endure”*
This lower Self is an unreal thing, composed of a great many illusive egos, of which each one has his peculiar claims, and whose demands grow in proportion as we attempt to satisfy them. They are the semi-intellectual forces of the soul that would rend the soul to pieces if they were allowed to grow, and which must be subdued by the power of the real Master, the superior “I” – the God.
These “I’s” are the Elementals, of which has been said so much in occult literature. They are not imaginary things, but living forces, and they may be perceived by him who has acquired the power to look within his own soul. Each of these forces corresponds to some animal desire, and if it is permitted to grow is symbolized by the form of the being which corresponds to its nature. At first they are thin and shadowy, but as the desire which corresponds to them is indulged in, they become more and more dense within the soul, and being nourished by the will, they gain great strength as our desires grow into a passion. The lesser Elementals are swallowed by the bigger ones, the little desires are absorbed by the stronger ones, until perhaps at last one Master Passion, one powerful Elemental remains. They form the dreaded Dwellers of the Threshold, who guard the garden of the paradise of the soul. They are described as having the form of snakes and tigers, hogs, insatiable wolves, &c, but as they are often the result of a mixture of human and animal elements, they do not merely exhibit purely animal forms, but frequently they look like animals with humans heads or frequently they look like animals with human heads or like men with animal members, they appear under endless varieties of shapes, because there is an endless variety of correlations and mixtures of lust, avarice, greed, sensual love, ambition, cowardice, fear, terror, hate, pride, vanity, self-conceit, stupidity, voluptuousness, selfishness, jealousy, envy, arrogance, hypocrisy, cunning, sophistry, imbecility, superstition, etc.
These Elementals live in the soul-realm of man as long as he lives, and grow strong and fat, for they live on his life-principle, and are fed by the substance of his thoughts. They may even become objective to him, if during a paroxysm of fear or in consequence of some disease they are enabled to step out of their sphere. They cannot be killed by pious ceremonies, nor be driven away by the exhortations of a clergyman, they are only destroyed by the power of the spiritual will of the divine man, which annihilates them as the light annihilates darkness, or as a stroke of lightning seems top rend the clouds.
Only those who have awakened to divine spiritual consciousness can have that spiritual will, of which the non-regenerated knows nothing. But those who are not yet so far advanced may cause those elementals to die slowly, by withdrawing from them the food which they require, that is to say, by not desiring or enjoying their presence, by not giving to their existence the consent of the will. They will then begin to wane, to get sick, die and putrefy like a member of the body which has become mortified. A line of demarkation will be formed in the soul-body of man, there may be “inflammation” and suffering. A process, similar to that which occurs if a gangrenous part of the physical body is thrown off, takes place, and at last the putrid carcass of the Elemental drops off and dissolves.
These descriptions are neither fancies nor allegories. Theophrastus Paracelsus, Jackob Boehme, and many other writers on Occultism write about them, and a due appreciation of their doctrines will go far to explain many occurrences mentioned in the history of witchcraft, and in the legends of the lives of the saints.
But there are not merely animal germs within the realm of the soul of man. In each human constitution there are also the germs which go to make up a Shakespeare, a Washington. Goethe, Voltaire, a Buddha, or Jesus of Nazareth. There are also the germs which may grow to make a Nero, Messalina, or Torquemada, and each germ has the talent power to develop, take a form and ultimately find its expression and reflection in the outward body, as much as the density of the material atoms, which are slow to transform, will permit, for each character corresponds to a form, and each form to a character.
Man’s microcosm is a garden in which all kinds of living plants grow. Some are poisonous, some are wholesome. It rests with man to decide which germs he wants to develop into a living tree, and that tree will be himself.
To accomplish the task of becoming spiritual it is not necessary to be a misanthrope and retire into a jungle there to feed on the products of one’s own morbid imagination, the struggle caused by the petty annoyances of everyday life is the best school to exercise the will power for those that have not yet gained the mastery over Self. “To renounce the vanities of the world” does not mean to look with contempt upon the progress of the world, to remain ignorant of mathematics and logic, to take no interest in the welfare of humanity, to avoid the duties of life or neglect one’s family. Such a proceeding would accomplish the very reverse of what is intended, it would increase the love of self, it would cause the soul to shrink to a small focus instead of expanding it over the world. We must attain a state before we can outgrow it. A misanthrope cannot attain the love of God, if he does not first rise up to the love for mankind, “To renounce one’s self” means to conquer the sense of personality and to free one’s self of the love of things which that personality desires. It means to “live in the world, but not cling to the worlds,” to substitute universal love for personal love, and to consider the interest of the whole of superior importance than personal claims. The renunciation of that self which is only a mask, is necessarily followed by spiritual growth. As we forget our personal self, we attach less importance to personalities, personal things, and personal feelings. We begin to look upon ourselves not as being permanent, unchanging and unchangeable entities, standing isolated among other isolated entities, and being separated from them by impenetrable shells, but as manifestations of an infinite powers, which embraces the universe, and whose powers are concentrated and brought to a focus in the bodies which we temporarily inhabit, into which bodies continually flow and from which are incessantly radiating the rays of an infinite sphere of light, whose circumference is endless and whose center is everywhere.
Upon the recognition and realization of this truth rests the only true Law, the Religion of the Universal Love of God in all Beings. As long as man takes only his own little self into consideration in his thoughts and acts, the sphere of his mind becomes necessarily narrow. All our popular religious sects are based upon selfish considerations. Each of our religious sectarians speculates to obtain some spiritual, if not material, benefit for himself. Each wants to be saved by somebody, first he, and then perhaps the others, but above all, he himself. The true religion of universal Love knows of no “self”.
Even the high and laudable desire to go to heaven or enter the state of Nirvana is, after all, but a selfish desire, and as long as man has any selfish desires whatever, his mind perceives only his own self. Only when he ceases to have a limited illusive “self” will his real god become unlimited and be omnipresent, like the spirit of Wisdom. He who desires unlimited knowledge must rise above limitation.
Looked at from that height, the personality appears exceedingly small and insignificant, and of little importance. Man appears as the centralization of an idea, persons and peoples like living grains of sand on the shore of an infinite ocean. Fortune, fame, love, luxury, etc, assume the importance of soap-bubbles, and the soul has no hesitation in relinquishing them as the idle playthings of children. Neither can such a renunciation be called a sacrifice, for grown-up boys and girls do not “sacrifice” their popguns and dolls, they simply do not want them any longer. In proportion as their minds expand, do they reach out for something more useful, and as a man’s soul expands, his surroundings, and even the planet on which he lives, appear to him small as a landscape seen from a great distance, or from a high mountain, while at the same time his conception of the infinite grows larger and assumes a gigantic form. This expansion of our existence “robs us of a country and a home”* by making us citizens of the grand universe, it separates us from the fancied affections for the impermanent forms of our mortal parents and friends, to unite us with their true individualities for ever as our immortal brothers and sisters, it lifts us up from the prison-house of insignificant clay, it leads him to the sublime freedom and splendor of Eternal and Universal Life.
Every form of life, the human form not excepted, is nothing more than a focus in which the energies of the universal principle of life are concentrated, and the more they are concentrated and cling to that center, the less are they able to manifest their activity, to grow and expand. Self-satisfied man, who employs his capacities only for his own selfish purpose, contracts them into himself, and as he contracts he becomes more and more narrow-minded and insignificant, and as he loses sight of the whole, the whole loses sight of him. If, on the other hand, a person lives only in dreams, sending his forces into the region of the unknown, scattering them through space, without having obtained intellectual strength, his thoughts will wander like shadows through the realm of the infinite and become lost. Neither the self-concerted realist nor the visionary dreamer and idealist grasps the truth. Harmonious growth requires expansion along with a corresponding accumulation of energy.
Some persons are possessed of great intellectual power, but of little spirituality, some have spiritual power, but a weak intellect, those in whom the intellectual energies are well supported by a strong spirit are the elect. To become practical, we must first learn to understand the thing we want to practice by observation and receiving instruction. Understanding is a result of assimilation and growth, not a result of memory. The truth must nourish the soul. It is an awakening to a state of consciousness of the nature of the thing that comes to be a part of our own being. A person coming to a strange country in the evening will, when after a night’s rest he awakes in the morning, hardly realize where he is. He has, perhaps, been dreaming of his home and those that are left there, and only after he opens his eyes and awakens to a full sense of consciousness of his new and strange surrounding, will the old impressions fade away, and he will begin to realize where he is. In the same manner old errors must disappear before new truths can be realized. Man only begins to exist as a conscious spiritual being when he begins to experience spiritual life.
To become spiritual, physical health, intellectual growth, and spiritual activity should go hand in hand. Intuition should be supported by an unselfish intellect, a pure mind by a healthy form. How to accomplish this can neither be taught by a science which deals only with illusory effects, nor by a religious belief based upon illusions, but it is taught by Theosophy, the Wisdom Religion of the ages, whose foundation is truth, and whose practical application is the highest object of human existence.
This Wisdom Religion has been, and is to-day, the inheritance of the saints, prophets, and seers, and of the illuminated ones of all nations, no matter to what of religion they may have given their adherence. It was taught by the ancient Brahmins, Egyptians, and Jews in temples and caves, Gautama Buddha and Jesus of Nazareth preached it, it formed the basis of the Eleusinian and Bacchic mysteries of the Greeks, and the true religion of the eternal Christ is resting upon it. It is the religion of Humanity, that has nothing to do with opinions and forms. Now, as in times of old, its truths are misunderstood and misrepresented by men who profess to be teachers of men. The Pharisees and Sadducees of the New Testament were the prototypes of modern churchmen and scientists existing today. Now, as then, the truth is daily crucified between superstition and selfishness and laid in the tomb of ignorance. Now as then, the spirit has fled from the form, being driven away by those that worship the letter and ignore the spirit. Wisdom will forever remain a secret science to the idolaters adoring the form, even if it were proclaimed from the housetops and preached at a marketplace. The dealer in pounds and pennies, absorbed by his material interests, may be surrounded by the greatest beauties of nature and not comprehend them, the speculative reasoned will ask for a sign and not see the signs by which he is continually surrounded. The tomb from which the Saviour will arise is the heart of mankind, if the God in Humanity awakens to self-consciousness of his Divinity then will he appear as a sun, shedding his light upon a better and happier generation.*
The existence of the magic power of good will probably be denied by few, but if the existence of benevolent, or White Magic, is admitted, that of malevolent, or Black Magic, is not anymore improbable.
*See “Bhagavad Gita,” cap xi.
It is not man who exercises good or evil magic powers, but it is the spirit in him who works good or evil through the organism of man. God in his aspect as the great cause is good or evil according to the conditions under which he acts, for if God did not include evil as well as good, he would not be universal. God performs good or evil deeds according to the mode in which he must act, in the same way as the sun is good in spring-time when he melts the snow and assists the grass and flowers to crawl out of the dark earth, and evil if he parches the skin of the wanderer in tropical Africa and kills persons by sun-stroke. God causes the healthy growth of a limb and the unintelligent material nature which acts according to law and not according to whims. Divine wisdom does not become manifest in that which is not divine or spiritual. Consciousness cannot be revealed in an unconscious body. Only when the spirit in Man has awakened to consciousness and knowledge, will man be able to control his own spiritual power and employ it for good or for evil.
A person having created (or called into consciousness) in himself a spiritual power may employ it for good or for evil. Every day, we may read of persons who have used high intellectual powers for vile purposes. We see persons making use of the vanity, greediness, selfishness, or ambition of others to render them subservient to their own purpose. We see them commit murder and instigate wars for the benefit of their own purposes or to attain some object of their ambition. But such events belong more or less to the struggle for existence. They do not necessarily belong to the sphere of black magic because they are usually not caused by a love for absolute evil, but by a desire of a personal benefit of some kind. The real black magicians are those that are doing evil for the sake of doing evil, who injure others without expecting or receiving any benefit for themselves. To that class belong the habitual backbiter and slanderer, traducer and seducer, those who enjoy to create enmity in the bosom of families, oppose progress and encourage ignorance, and they have been rightly called the Sons of Darkness, while those who do good for the sole purpose of doing good have been called the Children of Light.
The struggle between Light and Darkness is as old as the world, there can no light become manifest without Darkness and no evil without good. Good and evil are the light and shadow of the one eternal principle of life, and each is necessary if the other is to become manifest. Absolute good must exist, but we cannot know good without knowing the presence of evil. Absolute evil cannot exist, because it is held together by the power of good. A soul in which there were no good whatever would rage against itself, the forces constituting such an entity would combat each other and rend it to pieces. Man’s Redeemer is his power for good. This power attracts him to that which is good, and at the end, when the supreme source of all power, from which life emanated in the beginning, withdraws that activity into itself, the powers of darkness will suffer, but the creatures of Light will be one with their own source.
This is the law of evolution, that the lower should develop into something higher, but this can be accomplished only by the power of the highest of all germinally contained within the form, and acted upon by itself from without. The soul requires nutriment as much as the physical form, and the nutriment of the soul descends from above like the rain, while the earth below furnishes the conditions of its assimilation. This is the law of the spirit in the natural world, that all nature should receive it and by a spiritual unfolding rise up to the spirit, while matter is to furnish the steps upon which to ascend. This unfolding and uprising takes place in proportion as the spirit of God becomes self-conscious in man, endowing him with a sense of its divine nature, which will ultimately lead him to a recognition of God.