The Masters and the Path

C. W. Leadbeater



Part II (continued)

Chapter 5




Account of an Acceptance

Though the acceptance of the pupil by the Master produces so great a difference in his life, there is but little more of external ceremony attached to it than there was in the case of probation. The following account of the acceptance of some of our young people is given for comparison with the corresponding account of probation in the last chapter:

Going as usual to the house of our Master Kuthumi, we found the Master Morya sitting in earnest conversation with him. We naturally stood aside for a moment, but the Master called us forward with his dazzling smile of welcome, and we made the customary salutation.

The first of our candidates, whom his Master had once called “an ever-glowing Love-Star,” is so full of love for his Master that he looks upon him as an elder Brother, and is absolutely free and at home with him, though he never speaks to him without deep reverence. It is indeed beautiful to see them together.

On this occasion our Master smiled kindly upon him and said: “Have you finally decided that you will work under me and devote yourself to the service of humanity?” The boy replied very earnestly that he meant to do so, and our Master continued: “I have been much pleased with the efforts that you have made, and I hope that you will not relax them. Do not forget under the new conditions what I told you a few months ago. Your work and your determination have enabled me to shorten the period of your Probation, and I am pleased that you have chosen the shortest of all roads to progress, that of bringing others with you along the Path. Absolutely unselfish love is the strongest power in the world, but few are they who can keep it pure from exaction or jealousy, even if it be for one object alone. Your advance­ment is due to your success in keeping that flame burning ardently for several objects simultaneously. You have done much to develop strength, but you need still more of it. You must acquire discrimination and alertness, so that you see what is wanted at the right moment, instead of ten minutes afterwards. Before you speak or act, think carefully what the consequences will be. But you have done remarkably well, and I am much pleased with you.”

Then the Master laid his hand upon the head of each of the candidates separately, saying: “I accept you as my chela according to the ancient rite.” He drew each in turn into his aura, so that for a few moments the pupil disappeared in him, and then emerged looking inexpressibly happy and noble, showing forth the special characteris­tics of the Master as he had never done before. When all this was over our Master said to each one: “I give you my blessing.” And then speaking to all together: “Come with me; I must present you in your new character for official recognition and registration.” So he took them to the Mahachohan, who looked them over keenly, and said: “You are very young. I congratulate you on reaching such a position so early. See that you live up to the level which you have attained.” And he entered their names in the imperishable record, showing them the columns opposite their names which had still to be filled, and expressing a hope that he might soon have other entries to make for them.

On the way back from the visit to the Mahachohan, the Master took his new pupils once more into the cave near his house, and they watched him dissolve into thin air the living images of themselves which he had made a short time before. “Now that you are actually part of me all the time,” he said, “we shall not need those any longer.”

Union with the Master

If one observes this ceremony with the sight of the causal body, one sees the Master as a glorious globe of living fire, containing a number of concentric shells of colour, his physical body and its counterparts on other planes being in the centre of the glowing mass, which extends to a radius of many hundreds of yards.

In approaching the physical body of the Master, the pupil advances into that glowing globe of finer material, and when he finally reaches the feet of his Master he is already in the heart of that splendid sphere; and when the Master embraces the neophyte as described above, and expands himself to include the aura of the pupil, it is really the central heart of fire which so expands and includes him, for all through the ceremony of acceptance he is already far within the outer ring of that mighty aura. Thus for a few moments they two are one, and not only does the Master’s aura affect that of the pupil as described above, but any special characteristics attained by the latter act upon the corresponding centres of the Master’s aura, and that flashes out in response.

The inexpressible union of the pupil with the Master which begins during the ceremony of acceptance is a permanent thing, and after that, though the pupil may be far distant from the Master on the physical plane, his higher vehicles are vibrating in common with those of his Teacher. He is all the time being tuned up, and thus growing gradually more and more like his Master, however remote the resemblance may have been in the beginning; and thus he becomes of great service in the world as an open channel by means of which the Master’s force may be distributed on the lower planes. By constant meditation upon his Guru, and ardent aspiration towards him, the pupil has so affected his own vehicles that they are constantly open towards his Master and expectant of his influence. At all times they are largely preoccupied with that idea, waiting the word of the Master and watching for something from him, so that while they are keenly and sensitively open to him they are to a considerable extent closed to lower influences. Therefore all his higher vehicles, from the astral upwards, are like a cup or funnel, open above but closed at the sides, and almost impervious to influences touching him at the lower levels.

This tuning-up of the pupil continues throughout the period of discipleship. At first his vibrations are many octaves below those of the Master, but they are in tune with them, and are gradually being raised. This is a process that can take place only slowly. It could not be done at once, like the stamping out of a piece of metal with a die, or even comparatively quickly, as one would tune a violin or piano string. Those are inanimate things; but in this case a living being is to be moulded, and in order that the life may be preserved, the slow growth from within must adapt the form to the outside influence, as a gardener might gradually direct the limbs of a tree, or a surgeon with proper appliances might by degrees straighten a crooked leg.

We know that throughout this process the Master is not giving his full attention to each individual pupil, but is working upon thousands of people simultaneously, and all the time doing much higher work as well—playing a great game of chess, as it were, with the nations of the world and with all the different kinds of powers, of Angels and men, as pieces on the board. Yet the effect is as though he were watching the pupil and thinking of no one else, for the attention that he can give to one among hundreds is greater than ours when we concentrate it entirely upon one. The Master often leaves to some of his older pupils the work of tuning the lower bodies, though he himself is allowing a constant flow between his vehicles and those of his pupil. It is in this way that he does most for his pupils, without their necessarily knowing anything about it.

The accepted pupil thus becomes an outpost of the Master’s consciousness—an extension of him, as it were. The Adept sees, hears and feels through him, so that whatever is done in his presence is done in the Master’s presence. This does not mean that the Great One is necessarily always conscious of such events at the time when they are going on, though he may be so. He may be absorbed in some other work at the time; nevertheless the events are in his memory afterwards. What the pupil has experienced with reference to a particular subject will come up in the Master’s mind among his own knowledge when he turns his attention to that subject.

When a pupil sends a thought of devotion to his Master, the slight flash which he sends produces an effect like the opening of a great valve, and there is a tremendous downflow of love and power from the Master. If one sends out a thought of devotion to one who is not an Adept, it becomes visible as a fiery stream going to him; but when such a thought is directed by a pupil to his Master, the pupil is immediately deluged by a stream of fiery love from the Master. The Adept’s power is flowing outwards always and in all directions like the sunlight; but the touch of the pupil’s thought draws down a prodigious stream of it upon him for the moment. So perfect is the union between them that if there is any serious disturbance in the lower bodies of the pupil it will affect also those of the Master; and, as such vibration would interfere with the Adept’s work on higher planes, when this unfortunately happens he has to drop a veil that shuts the pupil off from himself until such time as the storm settles down.

It is of course sad for the pupil when he has to he cut off in this manner; but it is absolutely his own doing, and he can end the separation at once as soon as he can control his thoughts and feelings. Usually such an unfortunate incident does not last longer than forty-eight hours; but I have known cases much worse than that, in which the rift endured for years, and even for the remainder of that incarnation. But these are extreme cases, and very rare, for it is little likely that a person capable of such defection would be received as a pupil at all.

The Attitude of the Disciple

No one is likely to become an accepted pupil unless he has acquired the habit of turning his forces outwards and concentrating his attention and strength upon others, to pour out helpful thoughts and good wishes upon his fellow-men. Opportunities for doing this are constantly offering themselves, not only among those with whom we are brought into close contact, but even among the strangers whom we pass in the street. Sometimes we notice a man who is obviously depressed or suffering; in a flash we can send a strengthening and encouraging thought into his aura. Let me quote once again a passage which I saw a quarter of a century ago in one of the New-Thought books:

Knead love into the bread you bake; wrap strength and courage in the parcel you tie for the woman with the weary face; hand trust and candour with the coin you pay to the man with the suspicious eyes.

A lovely thought quaintly expressed, but conveying the great truth that every connection is an opportunity, and that every man whom we meet in the most casual manner is a person to be helped. Thus the student of the Good Law goes through life distributing blessings all about him, doing good unobtrusively everywhere, though often the recipient of the blessing and the help may have no idea whence it comes. In such benefactions every man can take his share, the poorest as well as the richest; all who can think can send out kindly and helpful thoughts, and no such thought has failed, or ever can fail while the laws of the universe hold. You may not see the result, but the result is there, and you know not what fruit may spring from that tiny seed which you sow in passing along your path of peace and love.

If the student has a little knowledge of the resources of nature he can often call them to his aid in work of this description. There are large numbers of nature-spirits, of a certain type, both in the woods and in the water, who are especially suitable for the ensouling of thought-forms, and take very great delight in being employed in that work. The student, when walking in the fields and in forests or sailing over the water, may invite such creatures to accompany him—may even draw them into his aura, and carry them along; and then, when he reaches a city, and begins to project his good thoughts upon those whom he meets, he can ensoul each such thought-form with one of these little helpers. By doing that, he gives radiant joy and a certain amount of evolution to the friendly nature-spirit, and also greatly prolongs the life and activity of his thought-form.

The Distribution of Force

Practically all the ordinary people in the world turn their forces inwards upon themselves, and because they are self-centred their forces are jangling together inside. But the pupil has to turn himself inside out, and maintain a constant attitude of giving in affection and service. We have in the pupil, therefore, a man whose higher vehicles are a funnel open to the highest influences from his Master, while his lower vehicles at the bottom of the funnel have been trained into the constant habit of radiating those influences out upon others. This makes him a perfect instrument for his Master’s use, for the translation of his force to the outer planes.

If an Adept in Tibet wanted to distribute some force at the etheric level in New York, it would not be economical to direct the current etherically for that distance; he would have to transmit his force on much higher levels to the point required, and then excavate a funnel downwards at that point.

Another simile which might be suggested is that of the transmission of electricity at enormous voltages across country, and the stepping of it down through transformers which give great current and low voltage at the place where the power is to be used. But to excavate such a funnel, or to step the force down at New York, would involve a loss to the Adept of nearly half of the energy that he had available for the piece of work to be done. Therefore the pupil on the spot is an invaluable labour-saving apparatus, and he must remember that above all things he must make himself a good channel, because that is most of all what the Master needs from him. Thus the pupil may be regarded in another way as an additional body for the Master’s use in the place where he happens to be.

Every human body is in reality a transmitter for the powers of the Self within. Through many ages it has been adapted to carry out the commands of the will in the most economical manner; for example, if we wish for any reason to move or to overturn a tumbler standing upon the table, it is easy enough to stretch out one’s hand and do so. It is also possible to overturn that tumbler by mere force of will without physical contact; indeed one of the earliest members of The Theosophical Society tried this experiment and actually succeeded, but only at the expense of devoting an hour’s strenuous effort to it every day for two years. It is obvious that to use the ordinary physical means is in such a case far more economical.

In the earlier stages of the pupil’s relation with his Master, he will often feel that a vast amount of force is poured through him, without his knowing where it is going; he feels only that a great volume of living fire is rushing through him and flooding his neighbourhood. With a little careful attention he can soon learn to tell in which direction it is going, and a little later he becomes able to follow with his consciousness that rush of the Master’s power, and can actually trace it down to the very people who are being affected and helped by it. He himself, however, cannot direct it; he is being used simply as a channel, yet is at the same time being taught to co-operate in the distribution of the force. Later, there comes a time when the Master, instead of pouring force into his pupil and aiming it at a person in a distant place, tells him to seek out the person and then give him some of the force, for this saves the Master some energy. Whenever and wherever a pupil can do a little of the Master’s work, he will always give it to him, and as the pupil increases in usefulness, more and more of the work is put into his hands, so as to relieve, by however slight an amount, the strain upon the Master. We think much, and rightly so, about the work that we can do down here; but all that we can imagine and carry out is as nothing to what he is doing through us. There is always a gentle radiation through the pupil, even though he may not be conscious of it, yet the same pupil will feel it distinctly whenever an usual amount of force is being sent.

This transmission of force from a particular Master is generally confined to his pupils, but any person who is seriously trying to live a life of service, purity and refinement may be used as a channel for force. It might well happen that in any given place there was no pupil quite fitted for a certain kind of outpouring; but there might be some other person who, though not so far advanced, could yet be employed for that particular purpose. In such a case the Master would probably use him. Many varieties of force are poured out by the Master for different purposes; sometimes one person is suitable, and sometimes another. Watching the case of two pupils side by side, one sees that one is used always for one type of force and the other for another kind.

This outpouring is physical as well as astral, mental and buddhic, and on the physical plane it issues mainly through the hands and feet. On this account—as well as for general reason—very great care must be taken about cleanliness. If the physical body of the person selected failed for a moment in this important matter, the Master could not utilize him, because the man would not be a suitable channel. It would be like pouring pure water through a dirty pipe—it would be fouled on the way. Therefore those who are in close relation with the Master are exceedingly vigilant about perfect bodily cleanliness. Let us take care, then, that we shall be fit in this respect if we are needed.

Another point about which we need to be watchful if we wish to be of use is to avoid distortion, especially of the feet. Not long ago I stayed for a few weeks in a community where it is the custom to walk barefooted, and I was horrified to see the twisted and crippled appearance of the feet of many of the students, and to observe how seriously this deformity interfered with their usefulness as channels of the Master’s force. The natural course for that force under ordinary conditions is to fill the whole body of the pupil and rush out through the extremities; but in cases where unhygienic foot-gear has produced permanent malformation the Adept can utilize only the upper half of the body; and as that imposes upon him the additional trouble of constructing each time a sort of temporary dam or barrier in the neighbourhood of the diaphragm of the pupil, it inevitably follows that others who are free from this disfigurement are employed far more frequently.

The Transmission of Messages

Sometimes the Master sends a definite message through his pupil to a third party. I remember once being told to deliver such a message to a very highly intellectual member whom I did not know very well. I felt a little embarrassment in approaching him on such a subject, but of course I had to do it; so I said to the recipient: “I have been told by my Master to give this message, and I am simply doing as I am told. I am perfectly aware that I cannot give you any evidence that this is a message from the Master, and I must leave you to attach to it just as much importance as you feel disposed. I have no alternative but to carry out my instructions.” I was of course conscious of the contents of the message, because I had had to take it down; and I aver that, on the face of it, it was a perfectly simple and friendly message, such as might have been sent by any kindly person to another, without appearing to bear any special significance whatever. But evidently appearances were deceptive; the old gentleman to whom I delivered it looked much startled, and said: “You need not take any trouble to try to persuade me that that is a message from your Master; I know it instantly from the wording; it would have been absolutely impossible for you to know the meaning of several of the references that he makes.” But to this day I have no idea what he meant.

It is, however, but rarely that a message is given in such a form as that. There seems to be much misconception on this subject, so it may be useful to explain exactly how messages are usually conveyed from higher to lower planes. We shall understand this more easily if we consider the relation between these planes, the difficulties in the way of communication between them, and the various methods by which these difficulties are overcome.

Sensitiveness, Mediumship and Psychic Powers

In the ordinary man of the world, who has made no special study of these matters and no effort to develop the powers of the soul, these planes are as separate worlds, and there is no conscious commu­nication between them. When he is what he calls “awake,” his consciousness works through his physical brain, and when his body is asleep it works through his astral vehicle. If, therefore, a dead man or a kamadeva wishes to communicate with such a man, there are two ways in which he can do it. He can meet the man face to face in the astral world and converse with him just as though they were both in physical life; or he can in any one of various ways manifest himself upon the physical plane, and yet set up some kind of communication there.

The first method is obviously both easier and more satisfactory; but the drawback is that the average man brings through no reliable recollection from his astral to his physical life; so that efforts to inspire and guide him are usually only very partially successful. Every man meets astral friends every night of his life, and conversations and discussions take place between them precisely as they do in the daytime in this denser world; the “living” man rarely remembers these in his waking consciousness, but his thoughts and actions may be, and often are, considerably influenced by advice given and suggestions made in this way, though when awake he is quite ignorant of their source, and supposes the ideas thus presented to his mind to be his own.

The astral entity who wishes to communicate, therefore frequently adopts the second method, and tries to produce effects upon the physical plane. This again can be done in two ways. The first of these is by causing certain physical sounds or movements which can be interpreted according to a pre-arranged code. Raps can be produced upon a table, or the table can be tilted at selected letters as someone repeats the alphabet, or the Morse telegraphic code may be employed if both parties happen to know it. Or the pointer of a ouija board can be moved from letter to letter so as to spell out a message.

Another way, less crude and tedious but more dangerous to the physical participant, is the employment by the astral entity of some of the organs of his friend on this plane. He can seize upon the vocal cords of the latter, and speak through him; he can use the hand of the “living” man to write messages or make drawings of which his physical instrument knows nothing. When the “dead” man speaks through the “living,” the latter is usually in a condition of trance; but the hand can be used for writing or drawing while its legitimate owner is wide awake, reading a book or conversing with his friends.

Not every one can be thus utilized by astral entities—only those who are specially amenable to such influences. Such persons are often described as psychics, mediums or sensitives; perhaps the last of these titles is the most appropriate in the cases which we are considering. But however sensitive a person may be to influences from another plane, he has a strongly defined personality of his own which usually cannot be entirely repressed. There are many degrees of sensitivity to influences from higher planes. Some people are born with this quality; others acquire it by effort; in both cases it can be developed and intensified by practice. That is what is usually meant in spiritualistic circles by “sitting for development”; someone who is by nature readily impressible is advised to render himself as negative as possible, and to sit day after day for hours in that attitude. Naturally, he becomes more and more impressible, and if some astral entity comes and acts upon him day after day, they become accustomed to each other, and the transference of ideas is greatly facilitated.

At a certain stage in that process the physical body of the victim is usually entranced—which means that the ego no longer controls his vehicles, but for the time hands them over to the astral influence. The vehicles, however, still bear the strong impress of the ego, so that, although the intelligence which is using them is quite different, they will nevertheless move to a considerable extent along their accustomed ruts. The sentiments of the communicating entity may be of the most exalted kind, but if the sensitive happens to be uneducated, ungrammatical or slangy, the expression of those exalted sentiments on the physical plane will be likely to exhibit those characteristics in a very marked manner. When we hear of Julius Caesar or Shakespeare or the Apostle St. John manifesting at a séance, we generally find that they have somehow vastly deteriorated since the time of their last earth-life; and naturally and rightly enough we decide that these great men of old are not really present at all, but that the whole thing is merely an impudent impersonation. That is no doubt a perfectly just conclusion; but what we sometimes forget is that, even if such a communication were genuine, it would still in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred be subject to exactly the same disabilities.

There is a condition of trance-control so perfect that the defects inherent in the personality of the instrument are entirely overcome; but such complete control is very rare indeed. When it exists we may have a strikingly accurate reproduction of the voice and intonation and the habitual expressions of the dead man, or an exact imitation of his handwriting; but even in such an extreme case we are far from having an absolute guarantee that we are dealing with the person whose name is given. In these higher planes thought-reading, thought-transference of all kinds, is so exceedingly easy that there is comparatively little information which can be regarded as in any sense private or exclusive.

All this so-called development is exceedingly bad for the poor sensitive; more and more, as he grows in susceptibility of this kind, the ego loses his grasp of his vehicles. He becomes increasingly amenable to astral influences, but he has no guarantee whatever as to their nature, which means that he is just as readily impressible by evil as by good. And the promise frequently given, that some “spirit-guide” will protect him, is of little value, as the power of such guides is very limited. He is in the position of one who lies bound and helpless by the roadside, at the mercy of the next passer-by, who may of course be a good Samaritan, who will release him from his bonds and minister to his needs, but may also be a robber, who will take from him all that has been left to him; and perhaps robbers are on the whole more common than good Samaritans. From my own point of view, based upon no inconsiderable experience, I should strongly warn my brethren against engaging in any kind of mediumship.

The title of medium might, I think, well be reserved for those through whom physical phenomena are produced—people from whom what is now technically termed ectoplasm can be withdrawn, so that materialization may take place, and heavy objects of various kinds can be moved.

Another and very different kind of development is that which may legitimately be denominated psychic, for psyche in Greek means “the soul”. The soul has its powers as well as the body; though perhaps it would be more accurate to say that all powers which a man possesses are the powers of the soul, though they manifest on different planes. It is after all not the body which sees or hears, which writes or draws or paints; it is always the man himself working through the body. And when a man develops these psychic powers it really means only that he has learnt to function through other vehicles than the physical and that he can to some extent bring the results through into his waking consciousness.

It is the point last mentioned which creates the difficulty in almost every case. Any man, functioning on the astral plane during the sleep of his physical body or after the death of that body, is aware of his astral surroundings, but it does not follow that the will remember them when he wakes. The difficulty therefore is not in having the experiences, but in being able to impress them upon the physical brain; the power to do that can be acquired only by long-continued effort. There seems to be a general impression that the possession of such powers indicates high moral and spiritual development, but this is not necessarily so. A sufficiently strenuous and persevering effort will unfold these powers in anyone, quite irrespective of his moral character; but it is true that they usually develop spontaneously when a man reaches a certain stage of spiritual advancement.

It is generally in that way that these powers come to the pupils of the Masters; and though they are not without their especial dangers, they are certainly on the whole very useful and valuable. But it is necessary that those to whom they come should try to understand them—to comprehend something of their mechanism; they must not suppose that, even if the powers come to them as the result of general advancement, the recipients are thereby freed from the ordinary laws under which such faculties work. There are many difficulties connected with the bringing through of clear recollection, and these exist for us just as they do for the spiritualistic sensitive, though our long course of careful study ought to fit us to meet them and to understand them better than he does.

Above all, we must not forget that we also have our personalities, which are likely to be even stronger than those of our neighbours, just because we have been trying to develop strength and definiteness of character. Of course, we have also been trying for years to dominate the personality by the individuality, but that does not alter the fact that we are likely to be colourful persons with decided characteristics, and that whatever comes through us is liable to be modified by those precise characteristics.

Let me try to illustrate what I mean by quoting one or two instances which have come under my personal observation. I remember one lady who was an exceedingly good clairvoyant, capable of looking back into the past, and describing historical events with great accuracy and wealth of detail. She was a very devout Christian, and I think she was never quite able to feel that any other religion could be as full an exposition of the truth as her own. She might be said (using the word in no invidious sense) to have a strong prejudice in favour of Christianity. The result of that upon her clairvoyance was very striking—in fact, almost amusing sometimes. She might be describing, let us say, a scene in ancient Rome; so long as nothing directly connected with religion came into her purview, the description would be quite accurate, but the moment that it appeared that one of the characters in the scene was a Christian she immedi­ately displayed a remarkable strong bias in his favour. Nothing that he did or said could be wrong, whereas anything whatever that was said or done against him was always indicative of the greatest wickedness. When this factor was introduced her clairvoyance became absolutely unreliable. One supposes that she must have seen the facts as they occurred, but the account she gave of them and the interpretation which she placed upon them were certainly entirely untrue.

Another lady whom I knew had a brilliantly poetical imagination, which induced her in ordinary conversation to magnify everything which she related—not in the slightest degree intentionally to falsify it, but simply so to embroider it as to make it in every way greater and more beautiful than the actual fact had been—quite a happy attitude of mind, of course, in many ways, but somewhat fatal to scientific observation. The same thing occurred with regard to her remem­brance and description of a scene on other planes, whether it were contem­poraneous or something from past history. A quite ordinary little ceremony on the physical plane, attended perhaps by some friendly devas and a few dead relations of the parties concerned, would in her report of it be magnified into a tremendous initiation attended by all the great Adepts and most of the celebrated characters of history, and blessed by the presence of a whole army of Archangels.

One may see from these small examples how necessary it is for the budding clairvoyant to watch himself very carefully and to allow a liberal discount from his early impressions. It must never be forgotten that one has to become accustomed to the use of faculties on these higher planes just as a man has to familiarize himself with the use of new tools of any kind in this physical world. The little child learns only by degrees to understand perspective: he has his eyes from the first, but he must learn how to use them. The man who has the misfortune to be blind can learn to read by the Braille system with great ease and rapidity, but most of us who have the use of our eyes would find it practically impossible to distinguish one letter of that system from another without a long and tiresome training.

Just so a man whose astral faculties are beginning to open finds it at first a practical impossibility to describe what he sees and hears; everything appears so different, and he finds what he would probably call his sight acting in all sorts of unexpected directions. It is only after years of experience that he becomes fully reliable; and even then it is only a mere reflection of what he sees that he can bring through into the lower consciousness. There is always a side of any astral happening which cannot be expressed in physical words; and as the man rises to higher levels more and more of these additional sides or aspects confront him, and he finds it less and less within his power to give even the slightest idea of his experiences, and even what he is able to bring through is certain to be coloured by his own idiosyncrasies.

Messages from Adepts

Many of us have been long meditating daily upon our great Masters—some of us for years; we have drawn ourselves near to them by the intensity of our reverence and devotion, and it often happens to the more fortunate among us to come into personal touch with them and sometimes to be charged by them with messages for less fortunate brethren. Anyone who is honoured by being charged with such a message will, I am sure, make every effort to transmit it with painstaking accuracy, but he must remember that he is by no means free from the general law in such matters, and he must be very definitely on his guard lest his own predilections or dislikes should in any way colour what he is directed to say. You may think that that is impossible—that a Master would take the trouble to ensure the accurate delivery of any message which he sent. But you must remember that the great Adepts themselves work under universal law, and that they cannot alter its provisions for our convenience. There are cases, such as that which I have just mentioned, in which a direct charge of great importance is dictated word by word, and written down on the physical plane at the time by the recipient: but such cases are exceedingly rare. Let me try to describe, as far as physical words will do it, what usually takes place when a Master conveys a message through one of him disciples.

In the first place let it be understood that an Adept habitually keeps his consciousness focused upon a very high plane—usually that which we call nirvana. He can of course in an instant bring it down to any level where he wishes to work; but to descend below the causal body involves a limitation which it is rarely worth his while to undertake. The pupil when out of his body functions at different levels according to his development; but anyone who is likely to be entrusted with a message would probably be using at least his causal body, and it often happens that communication are exchanged at that level. To understand this transference of ideas, therefore, we must try to see what form such a communication would take.

Here on the physical plane we may put our thought or our emotion into spoken words; we know that such words are not used in the higher life, but that the emotions and thoughts take definite floating forms on the astral and mental planes respectively. As a rule each thought and each emotion makes its own separate form, though when they are mixed we find forms in which the colours are curiously blended. Suppose that we try to raise ourselves in imagination to that high part of the mental plane on which the ego functions in his causal body, and let us see how his ideas express themselves there. As usual, language fails us; but one principal point of difference is that the ego does not use words and sentences at all, nor does he express such things in a succession of thoughts. He does not appear to think about a subject in our sense of the word at all; he never argues it out and thereby arrives at a conclusion as we do down here.

When a subject comes before him he sees it and knows all about it; if he wishes to convey an idea to another it is as though he threw at him a kind of ball which somehow includes knowledge and inferences all in one. Nor does he in the least confine himself to projecting a single idea. The thought of an Adept showers upon his pupil a kind of hailstorm of lovely little spheres, each of which is an idea with its relation to other ideas quite clearly worked out; but if the pupil is fortunate enough to remember and clever enough to translate such a hailstorm, he is likely to find that it may need twenty pages of foolscap to express that one moment’s deluge, and even then of course the expression is necessarily imperfect.

Furthermore, it has to be recognized that no words have been given to him—only ideas; and therefore he must of necessity express those ideas in his own language. The ideas are the Master’s, if he is fortunate enough to have caught and interpreted them accurately; but the form of expression is entirely his own. Therefore his idiosyncrasies will certainly appear, and people reading the message will say: “But surely that is so-and-so’s style”—referring to the intermediary to whom the message was confided. In saying so they are of course quite right, but they must not allow that obvious fact to blind them to the spirit or the importance of the message.

Long ago Madame Blavatsky, referring to the letters which were at that time (1888) frequently received from the Adepts, wrote:

It is hardly one out of a hundred occult letters that is ever written by the hand of the Master in whose name and on whose behalf they are sent, as the Masters have neither need nor leisure to write them; and when a Master says “I wrote that letter,” it means only that every word in it was dictated by him and impressed under his direct supervision. Generally they make their chela, whether near or far away, write (or precipitate) them, by impressing upon his mind the ideas they wish expressed, and if necessary aiding him in the picture-printing, process of precipitation. It depends entirely upon the chela’s state of development, how accurately the ideas may be transmitted and the writing-model imitated.[1]

When the pupil has for years been accustomed to transmit messages for the Master he will attain by constant practice a far greater facility and accuracy in translation; but that is because he has learnt to allow for his own personal equation, so that he is able practically to rule it out. Even so, modes of expression which he is in the habit of using are likely to occur, simply because they are to him the best way of expressing certain ideas; but when a person of the development and extensive experience of our great President (for example) conveys a message, we may be quite certain that its sense is accurate and that the form of its expression is the best that can be attained on this plane.

The Personal Equation

For those of us who have not yet attained to that level the personal equation is certain to intrude itself. Unfortunately, it often does so not only with regard to the style of the communication (which, after all, is not so very important, and can easily be discounted) but also with regard to its substance. To understand why and how this is so, we must consider for a moment the constitution and development of the man through whom the messages come.

Our older students will remember that in the book Man Visible and Invisible I gave a number of illustrations of the astral and mental bodies of men at various stages of their progress. Those illustrations, however, gave only the exterior appearance of those bodies—that part of each vehicle which is always in relation with the astral or mental world round the man, and is therefore kept in a condition of fairly constant activity. We must remember that these ovoids of astral and mental matter are only superficially vitalized, and that in the case of the average man the surface layer which is thus affected is usually thin. There is always a large proportion in each vehicle which is not yet vivified—a heavy core which takes almost no part in the outer activities of the vehicle, and is indeed but little moved by them. But though this mass of comparatively inert matter is scarcely influenced by the more awakened portion, it is quite capable of acting upon the latter in certain ways.

We have spoken of the personality as being in fact a fragment of the ego working through these lower vehicles—the mental, astral and physical bodies. A fairly full account of the method and detail of this working will be found in Chapter viii of this book, in The Inner Life, under the heading “Lost Souls,” and in Talks on the Path of Occultism, pp. 257–261. It is explained there that the ego is by no means fully alert as yet, but that in many cases what I suppose we must call a large portion of him (absurd as it sounds) is not yet in activity. It is the Monad which vivifies the ego, but in all of us as yet the ego is only partially awakened. Exactly in the same way it is the ego which animates the personality, but that work also is very far from being perfectly done as yet; and because of these facts certain conditions are set up of which it behoves us to take careful note. In some exalted moment an inrush of power from the ego may temporarily raise the standard of the personality, while on the other hand a steady pressure from the unused portion of the astral or mental body may for the time appreciably lower it.

The lethargic mass of unilluminated matter has a certain life and tendencies of its own, which assert themselves when the more active part of the personality is somewhat in abeyance, and that happens more especially when the man himself is not actively using those bodies. These qualities naturally vary with different people, but an intense egotism is almost always prominent. The thoughts and impressions generated by this sluggish kernel are often those of conceit and self-glorification, and also of instinctive self-preservation in the presence of any danger, whether real or imaginary. Before we reach the flashing glories of the developed man (see Man Visible and Invisible, Plate xxi) there is a long period of slow unfoldment during which this heavy core is being gradually permeated by the light, being warmed and thawed into glowing response. But it is a slow process to escape from this subtle domination of the personality. It will of course be gradually eliminated as the man brings the whole of his nature under control, but meanwhile he will be very wise to doubt most seriously any communications which glorify the personality, or suggest to him that he alone is chosen out of all mankind to received some stupendous revelation which is to revolutionize the world.

Some such promise is the regular stock-in-trade of the communi­cating spirit in many private inspirational séances; but we must not therefore assume intentional deceit on the part of that spirit. He is very often so strongly impressed by certain great facts which loom large before him in the astral life that he feels that, if only these could be adequately presented to the world, its attitude would indeed be wholly changed—forgetting that the same ideas were promulgated again and again during his physical life-time, and that he himself did not take the slightest notice of them. It illustrates the old remark of Dives to Abraham: “If one went to them from the dead they would repent”; and the result shows the wisdom of Abraham’s reply: “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded even though one rose from the dead.” It is precisely the insidious but constant pressure of this subconscious self which lays a man (otherwise of average common sense) open to extraordinary self-deception, so that he is ale to accept without protest flattery which without that influence he would at once see to be ridiculous.

It was to this strange undeveloped subconsciousness that M. Coué appealed with much success. One of its peculiarities is that it seems always to resent any effort of the awakened part of the personality to impress it by means of the will. Being indolent and prejudiced, it sets itself always against any change, any attempt to arouse it and set it to work. Therefore M. Coué especially advised his patients not to use their will at all, for that would only awaken opposition, but simply and quietly to repeat a suggestion until this subconscious self absorbed it. It will be recollected that one of the methods used to impose such an impression upon another was to make it during the sleep of his physical body. Even the auto-suggestion was to be done as nearly as possible in the same way; the patient was adjured to sink into slumber softly murmuring: “Every day and in every way I am growing better and better.” And such is the power of a constantly reiterated insinuation, that the subconscious self presently became fully charged with this idea (which readily harmonized with its irrepressible egotism) and radiated it steadily upon the more active consciousness until definite results were produced. So the undeveloped mass, which to the ignorant may prove a danger and a source of weakness, may actually be used by the wise man to help him on his upward way.

The moral of all this is that ignorance is always dangerous, and that even the noblest intentions cannot always atone for lack of scientific knowledge. Any sportive or scheming entity can beguile a man who is little acquainted with the hidden laws of nature, while he who has studied them can avoid many pitfalls. Yet even he should not presume upon his knowledge, for unceasing vigilance is the price of accuracy. Much advice has been given as to this, and assuredly we shall do well to heed it. Avoid all personal feeling—pride most of all; distrust profoundly all glorification of the individual, for “ambition is the first curse” and “the power which the disciple shall covet is that which shall make him appear as nothing in the eyes of men.” “Be humble if thou wouldst attain to wisdom: be humbler still when wisdom thou hast mastered.” He who forgets himself utterly, and devotes his life wholly to the service of others, will be saved thereby from many dangers; his heart will be pure as crystal, so that the light of the Logos may shine through it unsullied; his whole nature will respond so truly to the vibrations of his Master that thoughts and messages from higher planes will flow through him undistorted, uncontaminated by any lower touch. So shall he serve our Masters best, by serving the humanity which they love.

Testing Thought

Another most valuable privilege which the accepted pupil enjoys is that of laying his thought on any subject beside that of his Master, and comparing them. It will be readily understood how the frequent use of this power will keep the pupil’s thought running along noble and liberal lines—how he will constantly be able to correct any mistakes, any tendencies towards prejudice or lack of understanding. There may be various ways in which he can exercise this power; my own method was always to lie down in meditation and endeavour to reach up into the consciousness of the Master just as far as I possibly could. When I had reached the highest point that was for the time possible to me, I suddenly turned and looked back, as it were, upon the subject in question, and instantly received an impression of how it appeared to the Master. It was probably very far from being a perfect impression, but at least it showed me what he thought on the matter, as far as I was able to enter into his thought.

Care, however, must be taken that this wonderful privilege is not misused. It is given to us as a power of ultimate reference in questions of great difficulty, or in the cases where we have no sufficient ground for judgment, and yet have to come to some decision; but it is by no means intended to save us the trouble of thinking, or to be applied to the decision of ordinary everyday questions which we are perfectly competent to settle for ourselves.

Those who meditate long upon a Master and form a strong thought-image of him, as do the members of the Esoteric School, presently find that that thought-image is definitely vivified by that Master, so that they receive through it an unmistakable outpouring of spiritual force. This is as it should be; this is precisely the object of such meditation; and through it the pupil comes to know the influence so well that he can always recognize it. There have been cases, though they are happily rare, in which some evil entity has personated a Master in order to deceive a student; but such an attempt can succeed only if there is in the latter some subtle weakness, such as conceit, ambition, jealousy or selfishness, which an insidious tempter can arouse and foster until it becomes a fatal bar to spiritual progress. Unless the roots of such qualities are sternly and thoroughly eliminated, the aspirant is never free from the possibility of deception; but if he be truly humble and selfless he need have no fear.

The candidate for Acceptance must necessarily watch himself closely. If he has not received any direct hint from his Master or from some older pupil as to the special failings which he must try to avoid, he will do his best to observe these for himself, and having once decided upon them or been told of them, he will exercise unceasing vigilance against them. At the same time he should be warned on no account to overdo his introspection and allow himself to become morbid. The safest of all lines for him to take is to concentrate his attention on the helping of others; if his mind is full of that thought he will instinctively move in the right direction. The desire to fit himself thoroughly for that work will impel him to brush all obstacles out of the way, so that without consciously thinking of his own development at all, he will yet find that it is taking place.


It is not expected that a pupil shall be ever actively thinking of nothing else but the Master; but it is expected that the form of the Master shall be always in the background of his mind, always within immediate reach, always there when needed in the vicissitudes of life. Our minds, like bowstrings, cannot be kept always taut; reasonable relaxation and change of thought is one of the necessities of mental health. But the pupil should be exceedingly careful that there is no slightest tinge of impurity or unkindness about his relaxation; no thought should ever be permitted, even for a moment, which the pupil would be ashamed that his Master should see.

There is no harm whatever in reading a good novel for the sake of diversion; the thought-forms engendered by it would not in any way interfere with the current of the Master’s thought; but there are many novels full of evil insinuation, novels which bring impure thought-forms before the mind, novels which glorify crime, and others which concentrate the thought of their readers on the most unsavoury problems of life, or vividly depict scenes of hatred and cruelty; all such should be rigorously avoided. In the same way, there is no harm in taking part in or watching all ordinary games which are fairly played; but any which are rough and boisterous, any in which any sort of cruelty is involved, any in which there is likelihood of injury to man or beast—all these are absolutely barred.

Calm and Balance

In all the work which the disciple has to do he must be careful to preserve calm and balance, and that in two ways. Over-work, which is not uncommon among the young and enthusiastic, shows lack of wisdom. Each of us should do as much as he can, but there is a limit which it is not wise to exceed. I have heard our great President say: “What I have not time to do is not my work.” Yet no one labours more strenuously and unceasingly than she. If we use our forces reasonably for the task of to-day, we ought to be stronger to face the duties which to-morrow brings; to overstrain ourselves today so that we shall be useless tomorrow is not really intelligent service, for we spoil our power for future work in order to gratify to-day’s unbalanced enthusiasm. Of course emergencies occasionally arise in which prudence must be cast aside in order that some piece of work may be finished in time, but the wise craftsman will try to look ahead sufficiently to avoid unnecessary crises of that sort.

The second way in which the disciple must endeavour to preserve calm and balance is with regard to his own interior attitude. A certain amount of fluctuation in his feelings is inevitable, but he must try to minimize it. All sorts of exterior influences are always playing upon us—some astral or mental, some purely physical; and though we are usually entirely unconscious of them, nevertheless they affect us more or less. On the physical plane the temperature, the state of the weather, the amount of moisture in the atmosphere, over-fatigue, the condition of one’s digestive organs—all these things and many more are factors in our feeling of general well-being. And that feeling in turn affects not only our happiness but our capacity for work.

Equally without our knowledge, we are liable to be affected by astral conditions, which vary in different parts of the world just as climates, temperatures and physical surroundings do. Sometimes in the life of the outer world an unpleasant companion attaches himself to us, and is dismissed only with difficulty; in the astral world it is far less easy to rid oneself of some parasitically-disposed degenerate or even of some unfortunate defunct person drowned in the depths of despair. Such an one, clinging convulsively to a man, may drain away much of his vitality and flood him with gloom and depression, without being in the slightest degree helped thereby. We may be quite unaware of such an entity, and even if we know of it, it is often no easy matter to relieve his distress or (if that be impossible) to shake off the incubus of his presence. There are unconscious vampires on the astral plane just as there are on the physical, and in both cases they are most difficult to help.

The general development of the pupil makes him readily responsive to all these influences, whether he is aware of them or not; so he is likely to find himself occasionally inexplicably elated or depressed.

The astral elemental immensely enjoys violent alternations of feeling, and does all that he can to encourage them; but the disciple should not allow himself to be the playground of all these changing moods. He should endeavour to maintain a steady level of joyous serenity, unruffled by passing agitations.

Sometimes he will have the good karma to encounter some great encouragement, some definite stimulation of his progress, such as was afforded, for example, by the opportunity to attend the magnificent Jubilee Convention at Adyar. That was indeed an occasion to be remembered for the extraordinary stimulus and help which it gave to all those who opened their hearts to its influence. Such a happening may well be a milestone on the upward path of the student, from which he may date the opening of additional power, the attainment of a fuller realization of what brotherhood really means.

He will, however, do well to remember that after a splendid outpouring, an unusual upliftment of that sort, there necessarily comes a certain reaction. There is nothing in the least alarming or unnatural about that. It is a manifestation of a law of Nature, of which we see constant examples in everyday life. Many of us for example, live rather sedentary lives, doing a great deal of reading and writing; probably most of us do not give our physical bodies quite enough exercise—not as much as they need. Then that fact suddenly occurs to us, and we make a great spurt. We play some violent games, perhaps, or go off for a long walk or something of that sort. As long as we do not overdo it, that is very good. But when we have done it, when we have played our game or had our walk, a feeling of lassitude comes over us, and we want to sit down and rest. That, again, is quite right and quite natural. We have been perhaps a little overstraining a number of muscles which we do not generally use, or at least we do not use them so violently, and consequently they are tired and need relaxation. Therefore we have rather a limp feeling; we sit down or lie down, and after half-an-hour’s or an hour’s repose, under ordinary circumstances we are all right again.

But during that half-hour of quiet which we have to take, we must remember that we are in a passive condition; and therefore if there happen to be disease-germs in the air, as there generally are, we are a little more likely to be affected by them just at that time than at any other. The same thing is true at other levels, and when we have had a great upliftment and stimulation, our various vehicles have been strained a little more than they are accustomed to be. I do not say that it is a bad thing for us in any way; it has been a very good thing for us; but still the fact remains that our various bodies have done more than they generally do, and consequently there comes this period when they need relief from the strain.

There are various ways in which that period of rest has its little dangers. The relaxation, the slipping back from the height at which we have been living, brings first of all a certain risk that we may slip back a trifle too far—that, letting ourselves subside somewhat from that exalted spiritual condition, we may glide further down into materiality than in ordinary life; so that some little casual temptation, which in a general way would have no effect upon us, may possibly catch us unawares. That is one possibility against which we may not be on our guard—some little temptation which usually we should hardly notice. In that slight reaction of fatigue we might feel a little more self-indulgent than we should normally be, and so we might make some quite foolish mistake which commonly we should not make.

There is a correspondence to the disease-germ, too. While we are resting there are all sorts of thought-forms floating about, some pleasant enough and some distinctly unpleasant; many of them, at any rate, below the level at which our thought ordinarily works. We should be more likely to be affected by those during that reaction period.

The Dark Powers

There are other considerations about which it is just as well that we should know something. At such a time of upliftment as that of which we have spoken, we receive a very unusual outpouring of spiritual force from on high, from the Great White Brotherhood, from our individual Masters and teachers. There is an obscure law in Nature which pro­duces this rather curious result, that whenever there is a great outrush of higher and grander forces, there is also a corresponding efflux un­desirable energy. It may seem strange, but it undoubtedly is so; it has been put sometimes that when the Great Ones, working on the side of evolution, permit themselves to give an unusual benediction, in some curious kind of balance or fairness, they must allow a similar outflow of force on the other side. We have heard much of Darker Powers, of black magicians, of Brothers of the Shadow. These men are following an absolutely different line from ours, a line which brings them into collision with the Masters of the Wisdom, with the Hierarchy which directs the world and the solar system. Naturally that opposition acts not only upon those great Adepts, but upon us, their humble followers.

I do not wish to devote much space to these people in this book. I have written of them at considerable length in Talks on the Path of Occultism, pp. 632–5. I have little to add to what is there stated, except to say that one theory, on which they justify to themselves their amazing proceedings, is that the Logos does not really wish for union—that his intention in evolution is the development of each individual to the highest possible level. (You will note, by the way—though they would never admit it—that that level is not very high, after all, because their scheme keeps them working at the strengthening of the ego, and will not carry them on to the buddhic and nirvanic planes, which are planes of union.) They say: “You think you see about you signs of evolution towards union; you think that is the will of the Logos. On the contrary, that is a temptation which the Logos is putting in your way. Instead of wanting you to become one, he wants you to assert your individuality in spite of all this which tempts you to be absorbed into an undistinguished unity.”

People who really believe that find themselves in conflict with us and with our Masters at every point and all the way through; we follow our own Masters, who know much more about the Will of the Logos than anyone taking that wrong line can ever come to know, because they can attain union with him, which is impracticable for the advocates of separateness.

Therefore it comes that these men oppose us; they attempt to obtain recruits; like every one else, they want to convert others to their own opinions, and if we are developing and refining ourselves a little more than the average man in some ways, we are the very people of whom they want to get hold. Many of the more intellectual of them are as little enmeshed in materiality as any great ascetic. They quite agree that man should put aside lower things and aim at the higher; but they aim at an intensified individuality which in the end can only come to grief. So they are very likely to try to influence us, to intensify the individuality in us, to awaken a subtle conceit in us. Remember that it is part of their creed to be utterly unscrupulous; to them scrupulosity would seem a foolish and despicable weakness, so they will play the meanest tricks.

There is one of our special dangers. The more advanced we can become, the better prey we should be for these Brothers of the Shadow if they could get hold of us. But they cannot get hold of us, they cannot touch us, as long as we can keep ourselves in full community of thought with our Masters; as long as we can keep ourselves steadfastly along the line of unselfishness, of the constant outpouring of love.

Our strength against these Darker Powers is our union with our Masters, and our power to keep ourselves in their attitude—open always towards influences from above, but resolutely closed against all separative agencies which may try to affect us. Anything which tends to accentuate separateness is simply playing into the hands of the enemy; and this is true in small things as well as in those which we think greater. So we must put aside all silly little jealousies and animosities; every time that we yield ourselves to them we make ourselves weak spots in the Theosophical citadel, breaches in its defences; each time we indulge our lower nature by letting it have a gleeful little orgy of pride and spite, of feeling itself offended by some perfectly innocent brother, we are to just that extent traitors to our Masters. We might think: “Surely our Masters will save us from any such downfall as that.” They will not, because they cannot interfere with our liberty; we must learn to stand alone. Besides, we do not want to give our Masters the trouble of watching over us as a nurse watches over a little toddling child. The Adepts are the busiest people in the world; they deal with egos in blocks; they deal with souls by the million, not with personalities one by one. Still, if in real extremity one calls upon a Master, a response certainly comes. We should be very sorry to cause the Master even that moment’s trouble if we could possibly help it, but when really necessary the aid does come.

In the early days of this Society, while Madame Blavatsky was still alive, we had a member who was in many ways a man of tremendous power. If he had chosen to become a Black Magician he would have been a very effective specimen. Sometimes he was slightly un­scrupulous; he had a passion for knowledge; he would have done almost anything—even something a little shady—to gain further information. He was a doctor of medicine, and in attending upon one of our members he discovered her to be a clairvoyant of rather rare powers in certain ways. Finding this, when she was convalescent he asked her to join him in certain experiments. He said to her quite openly on the physical plane: “You have a very wonderful power; if you will allow me to mesmerize you, to put you into a trance, I am sure that you can attain heights which I myself can never touch, and in that way we should gain much knowledge which at present is out of our reach.” The lady refused—I think quite rightly; for such domination is a most dangerous thing, and should certainly not be undertaken except under exceptional conditions and with elaborate safeguards.

At any rate, she refused absolutely. The doctor was very much dissatisfied and declined to take “No” for an answer; but for the time he went his way. That same night he materialized in her bedroom and began to attempt mesmeric passes. Not unnaturally she was intensely angry; she felt a great sense of flaming outrage that he should dare to intrude upon her, that he should try to force upon her what she had definitely and after due consideration declined; and she set herself to fight against his influence with all her strength. But she quickly realized that her mental power was nothing as compared to his; that her will was being slowly but surely overborne: so, knowing that she was fighting a losing battle, she called upon her Master (the Master Kuthumi) for help.

The result was not only instantaneous, but it astonished her beyond words. Remember that she was filled with the most violent and passionate sense of outrage. In a flash, in a moment, as she made the call, she saw the doctor disappearing in the far distance. That was perhaps not quite so wonderful; but what struck her, what she never forgot, was that in one moment her whole feeling was absolutely changed. The anger was gone, the sense of outrage was gone, and all that she felt towards the disappearing doctor was profound regret that a man who had such wonderful powers should misuse them in that way. So, you see, when there is a real extremity help is at hand; but I think none of us will call for it unless we are absolutely forced to do so.

Think of others and not of yourself; think of loyalty and love to your Master, and how you can serve him best by spreading his influence among your brethren; then you need not be afraid that you will lose instead of gaining by any wonderful inspiration that has come to you.

The Certainty of Success

The pupil must make up his mind that with regard to his efforts towards self-improvement he will never allow himself to be discouraged by failure, even though it be often repeated. However many times he may have failed in his effort, however many falls he may have on the path which he sets before himself, there is exactly the same reason for getting up and going on after the thousandth fall that there was after the first. In the physical plane there are many things which are frankly impossible; but that is not the case in the higher worlds. We cannot lift a ton weight without machinery, but in the higher worlds it is possible with perseverance to lift the weight of our many imperfections. The reason for this is obvious if we think. Human muscles are not so constructed as to be able to lift a ton, and no conceivable training of them could enable them to do it, because the force behind them is limited. In spiritual matters, the man has behind him the whole divine power on which he can draw, and so little by little and by repeated efforts he will become strong enough to overcome any obstacle.

People often say: “I can deal with things on the physical plane, but on the astral and mental I can do very little; it is so difficult.” That is the reverse of the truth. They are not accustomed to thinking and working in that finer matter, and so they believe that they cannot. But as soon as their will is set, they will find that things will follow the direction of that will in a way impossible in the physical world.

Some pupils have found themselves much helped in this work by the use of a talisman or amulet. That may be a very real aid, since the physical nature has to be dealt with and brought into subjection, as well as the mind and the emotions, and it is without doubt the hardest to influence; a talisman strongly charged with magnetism for a particular purpose by someone who knows how to do it may be an invaluable help, as I have explained at considerable length in The Hidden Side of Things. Many people hold themselves superior to such aids, and say that they need no help; but for myself, I have found the task so arduous that I am glad to avail myself of any assistance that may be offered to me.

[1] Lucifer, vol. III, p. 93.