THE particulars of the case of "obsession,"
alluded to in the April number of this magazine, are given in the
following letter from a respectable English medical man who is in attendance
upon the victim:--
I take the liberty of addressing you in the cause of humanity,
with the intention of exciting your sympathies and obtaining all the aid
in your power to afford, in a case of "control."
You will understand that the gentleman is being made a medium against
his wish, through having attended a few séances for the
purpose of witnessing "materialization."
Ever since, he has been more or less subject to a series
of persecutions by the "controlling" spirit and, in spite
of every effort of his to throw off the influence, he has been
made to suffer most shamefully and painfully in very many ways and under
most trying and aggravating circumstances, especially by his thoughts
being forced into forbidden channels without external causes being present--the
bodily functions overruled, even being caused to bite his tongue
and cheeks severely whilst eating, &c., and subjected
to every species of petty annoyances which will serve as a means for the
"control" (unknown) to sustain and establish the connection.
The details are in their most painful features not such as I can write
to you; but if there be any means known to you whereby the influence
can be diverted, and it is thought necessary to be more particular
in my description of this case, I will send you all the information
So little is known in India of the latest and most startling phase of
Western mediumistic phenomena--"materialization,"--that
a few words of explanation are needed to make this case understood.
Briefly, then, for several years, in the presence
of certain mediums in America and Europe, there have been seen,
often under good test conditions, apparitions of the dead,
which in every respect seem like living human beings. They walk
about, write messages to present and absent friends, speak
audibly in the languages familiar to them in life, even though
the medium may be unacquainted with them, and are dressed in the
garb they wore when alive. Many cases of fraudulent personation
of the dead have been detected, pretended mediums have sometimes
gone on for years deceiving the credulous, and real ones,
whose psychical powers have been apparently proved beyond doubt,
have been caught playing tricks in some evil hour when they have yielded
to either the love of money or notoriety. Still, making
every allowance for all these, there is a residuum of veritable
cases of the materialization, or the making visible, tangible
and audible of portrait figures of dead people. These wonderful
phenomena have been variously regarded by investigators. Most Spiritualists
have looked upon them as the most precious proofs of the soul-survival;
while Theosophists, acquainted with the views of the ancient Theurgists,
and the still more ancient Aryan philosophers, have viewed them
as at best misleading deceptions of the senses, fraught with danger
to the physical and moral natures of both medium and spectator--if the
latter chances to be susceptible to certain psychical influences.
These students of Occultism have noticed that the mediums for materializations
have too often been ruined in health by the drain upon their systems,
and wrecked in morals. They have over and again warned the Spiritualistic
public that mediumship was a most dangerous gift, one only to be
tolerated under great precautions. And for this they have received
much abuse and few thanks. Still one's duty must be done at every
cost, and the case now before us affords a valuable text for one
more bit of friendly counsel.
We need not stop to discuss the question whether the so-called materialized
forms above described are or are not those of the deceased they look like.
That may be held in reserve until the bottom facts of Oriental psychical
science are better understood. Nor need we argue as to whether
there has ever been an authentic materialization. The London experiences
of Mr. William Crookes, F.R.S., and
the American ones of Colonel Olcott, both so widely known and of
so convincing a character, give us a sufficient basis of fact to
argue upon. We assume the reality of materializations, and
shall take the instance cited by the English physician as a subject for
The patient then is described as having been "controlled"
since attending "circles" where there were materializations,
and as having become the bond-slave of some evil powers which force him
to say and do painful and even disgusting things, despite his resistance.
Why is this? How can a man be compelled to so act against his will? What
is Obsession? Three brief questions these are, but most difficult
to explain to an uninitiated public. The laws of Obsession can
only be well understood by him who has sounded the depths of Indian philosophy.
The only clue to the secret, which the West possesses, is
contained in that most beneficent science, Magnetism or Mesmerism.
That does teach the existence of a vital fluid within and about the human
being; the fact of different human polarities; and the possibility
of one person projecting this fluid or force at will, to and upon
another person differently polarized. Baron Reichenbach's theory
of Odyle or Odic force shows us the existence of this same fluid in the
mineral and vegetable as well as the animal kingdoms. To complete
the chain of evidence, Buchanan's discovery of the psychometrical
faculty in man enables us to prove, by the help of this faculty,
that a subtle influence is exerted by people upon the houses and even
the localities they live in, the paper they write upon,
the clothing they wear, the portion of the Universal Ether (the
Aryan Akása) they exist in--and that this is a permanent
influence, perceptible even at the most distant epochs from the
time when the individual lived and exerted this influence. In one
word, we may say that the discoveries of Western science corroborate
most fully the hints thrown out by Greek sages and the more defined theories
of certain Indian philosophers.
Indians and Buddhists believe alike that thought and deed are both material,
that they survive, that the evil desires and the good ones of a
man environ him in a world of his own making, that these desires
and thoughts take on shapes that become real to him after death,
and that Moksha. in the one case, and Nirvana,
in the other, cannot be attained until the disembodied soul
has passed quite through this shadow-world of the haunting thoughts,
and become divested of the last spot of its earthly taint. The
progress of Western discovery in this direction has been and must ever
be very gradual. From the phenomena of gross to those of more sublimated
matter, and thence on towards the mysteries of spirit is the hard
road made necessary by the precepts of Aristotle. Western Science
first ascertained that our outcoming breath is charged with carbonic acid
and, in excess, becomes fatal to human life; then,
that certain dangerous diseases are passed from person to person in the
sporules thrown off into the air from the sick body; then,
that man projects upon every body and every thing he encounters a magnetic
aura, peculiar to himself; and, finally,
the physical disturbance set up in the Ether in the process of thought-evolution
is now postulated. Another step in advance will be to realize the
magical creative power of the human mind, and the fact that moral
taint is just as transmissible as physical. The "influence"
of bad companions will then be understood to imply a degrading personal
magnetism, more subtle than the impressions conveyed to the eye
or the ear by the sights and sounds of a vicious company. The latter
may be repelled by resolutely avoiding to see or hear what is bad;
but the former enwraps the sensitive and penetrates his very being if
he but stop where the moral poison is floating in the air. Gregory's
"Animal Magnetism," Reichenbach's "Researches,"
and Denton's "Soul of Things" will make much of this plain to
the Western inquirer, though neither of those authors traces the
connection of his favourite branch of science with the parent-stock--Indian
Keeping the present case in view, we see a man highly susceptible
to magnetic impressions, ignorant of the nature of the "materializations"
and, therefore, unable to protect himself against bad influences,
brought in contact with promiscuous circles where the impressionable medium
has long been the unwitting nucleus of evil magnetisms, his system
saturated with the emanations of the surviving thoughts and desires of
those who are living and those who are dead. The reader is referred
to an interesting paper by Judge Gadgil of Baroda (see our December number),
on "Hindu Ideas about Communion with the Dead," for a
plain exposition of this question of earth-tied souls, or Pisachas.
"It is considered," says that writer, "that
in this state, the soul, being deprived of the means of
enjoyment of sensual pleasures through its own physical body, is
perpetually tormented by hunger, appetite and other bodily desires,
and can have only vicarious enjoyment by entering into the living physical
bodies of others, or by absorbing the subtlest essences of libations
and oblations offered for their own sake." What is there to
surprise us in the fact that a negatively polarized man, a man
of a susceptible temperament, being suddenly brought into a current
of foul emanations from some vicious person, perhaps still living
or perhaps dead, absorbes the insidious poison as rapidly as quicklime
does moisture, until he is saturated with it? Thus, a susceptible
body will absorb the virus of small-pox, or cholera, or
typhus, and we need only recall this to draw the analogy which
Occult Science affirms to be warranted.
Near the Earth's surface there hangs over us--to use a convenient simile--a
steamy moral fog, composed of the undispersed exhalations of human
vice and passion. This fog penetrates the sensitive to the very
soul's core; his psychic self absorbs it as the sponge does water,
or as fresh milk effluvia. It benumbs his moral sense, spurs
his baser instincts into activity, overpowers his good resolutions.
As the fumes of a wine-vault make the brain reel or as the choke-damp
stifles one's breath in a mine, so this heavy cloud of immoral
influences carries away the sensitive beyond the limits of self-control,
and he becomes "obsessed," like our English patient.
What remedy is there to suggest? Does not our very diagnosis indicate
that? The sensitive must have his sensitiveness destroyed; the
negative polarity must be changed to a positive; he must become
active instead of passive. He can be helped by a magnetiser who
understands the nature of obsession, and who is morally pure and
physically healthy; it must be a powerful magnetiser, a
man of commanding will-force. But the fight for freedom will,
after all, have to be fought by the patient himself. His
will-power must be aroused. He must expel the poison from his system.
Inch by inch he must win back the lost ground. He must realize
that it is a question of life or death, salvation or ruin,
and strive for victory, like one who makes a last and heroic effort
to save his life. His diet must be of the simplest, he must
neither eat animal food, nor touch any stimulant, nor put
himself in any company where there is the smallest chance for unclean
thoughts to be provoked. He should be alone as little as possible,
but his companions should be carefully chosen. He should take exercise
and be much in the open air; use wood-fire, instead of coals.
Every indication that the bad influence was still working within him should
be taken as a challenge to control his thoughts and compel them to dwell
upon pure, elevating, spiritual things, at every
hazard and with a determination to suffer anything rather than give way.
If this man can have such a spirit infused into him, and his physician
can secure the benevolent help of a strong, healthy magnetiser,
of pure character, he may be saved. A case almost exactly
like this one, except that the patient was a lady, came
under our notice in America; the same advice as the above was given
and followed, and the obsessing "devil" was driven out
and has been kept out ever since.
Theosophist, May 1880