TRICKERY OR MAGIC?
[From The Religio-Philosophical Journal, Dec. 22nd, 1877.]
Article found in The Modern Panarion
Articles by HPB
A WISE saying is that which affirms that he who seeks to prove too much, in the end proves nothing. Prof. W. B. Carpenter, F.R.S. (and otherwise alphabetically adorned), furnishes a conspicuous example in his strife with men better than himself. His assaults accumulate bitterness with every new periodical he makes his organ, and in proportion with the increase of his abuse his arguments lose force and cogency. And, forsooth, he nevertheless lectures his antagonists for their lack of "calm discussion," as though he were not the very type of controversial nitro-glycerine! Rushing at them with his proofs, which are "incontrovertible" only in his own estimation, he commits himself more than once. By one of such committals I mean to profit to-day, by citing some-curious experiences of my own.
My object in writing the present is far from that of taking any part in this onslaught upon reputations. Messrs. Wallace and Crookes are well able to take care of themselves. Each has contributed in his own specialty towards real progress in useful knowledge more than Dr. Carpenter in his. Both have been honoured for valuable original researches and discoveries, while their accuser has been often charged with being no better than a very clever compiler of other men's ideas. After reading the able rejoinders of the "defendants" and the scathing review of the mace-swinging Prof. Buchanan, every one, except his friends, the psychophobists, can see that Dr. Carpenter is completely floored. He is as dead as the traditional door nail.
In the December supplement of The Popular Science Monthly, I find, (p. 116) the interesting admission that a poor Hindû juggler can perform a feat that quite takes the great Professor's breath away! In comparison, the mediumistic phenomena of Miss Nichol (Mrs. Guppy) are of no account. Says Dr. Carpenter:
The celebrated "tree-trick," which most people who have been long in India have seen, as described by several of our most distinguished civilians and scientific Officers, is simply the greatest marvel I ever heard of. That a mango-tree should first shoot up to a height of six inches, from a grass-plot to which the conjurers had no previous access, beneath an inverted cylindrical basket, whose emptiness has been previously demonstrated, and that this tree should appear to grow in the course of half an hour from six inches to six feet, under a succession of taller and yet taller baskets, beats Miss Nichol.
Well, I should think it did. At any rate, it beats anything that any F.R.S. can show by daylight or dark, in the Royal Institution or elsewhere. Would not one think that such a phenomenon so attested, and occurring under circumstances that preclude trickery, would provoke scientific investigation? If not, what would? But observe the knothole through which an F.R.S. can creep out. "Does Mr. Wallace," ironically asks the Professor,
Attribute this to a spiritual agency? or, like the world in general [of course meaning the world that science created and Carpenter energizes] and the performers of the tree-trick in particular, does he regard it as a piece of clever jugglery?
Leaving Mr. Wallace, if he survives this Jovian thunder-bolt, to answer for himself, I have to say for the "performers" that they would respond with an emphatic "No" to both interrogatories. The Hindû jugglers neither claim for their performance a "spiritual agency," nor admit it to be a 'trick of clever jugglery." The ground they take is that the tricks are produced by certain powers inherent in man himself, which may be used for a good or bad purpose. And the ground that I, humbly following after those whose opinion is based on really exact psychological experiments and knowledge, take, is, that neither Dr. Carpenter nor his body-guard of scientists, though their titles stream after their names like the tail after a kite, have as yet the slightest conception of these powers. To acquire even a superficial knowledge of them, they must change their scientific and philosophical methods. Following after Wallace and Crookes, they must begin with the A B C of Spiritualism, which—meaning to be very scornful—Dr. Carpenter terms "the centre of enlightenment and progress." They must take their lessons not alone from the true but as well from spurious phenomena, from what his (Carpenter's) chief authority, the "arch-priest of the new religion," properly classifies as "Delusions, Absurdities and Trickeries." After wading through all this, as every intelligent investigator has had to do, he may get some glimpses of truth. It is as useful to learn what the phenomena are not, as to find out what they are.
Dr. Carpenter has two patent keys warranted to unlock every secret door of the mediumistic cabinet. They are labelled "expectancy" and "prepossession." Most scientists have some pick-lock like this. But to the "tree-trick" they scarcely apply; for neither his "distinguished civilians" nor "scientific officers" could have expected to see a stark-naked Hindû on a strange glass-plot, in full daylight, make a mango-tree grow six feet from the seed in half an hour, their "prepossessions" would be all against it. It cannot be a "spiritual agency"; it must be "jugglery." Now Maskelyne and Cooke, two clever English jugglers, have been keeping the mouths and eyes of all London wide open with their exposures of Spiritualism. They are admired by all the scientists, and at Slade's trial figured as expert witnesses for the prosecution. They are at Dr. Carpenter's elbow. Why does he not call them to explain this clever jugglery, and make Messrs. Wallace and Crookes blush with shame at their own idiocy? All the tricks of the trade are familiar to them; where can science find better allies? But we must insist upon identical conditions. The "Tree-Trick" must not be performed by gas-light on the platform of any Egyptian Hall, nor with the performers in full evening dress. It must be in broad daylight, on a strange grass-plot to which the conjurers had no previous access. There must be no machinery, no confederates, white cravats and swallow-tail coats must be laid aside, and the English champions appear in the primitive apparel of Adam and Eve—a tight-fitting "coat of skin," and with the single addition of a dhoti, or a breechcloth seven inches wide. The Hindûs do all this, and we only ask fair play. If they raise a mango-sapling under these circumstances, Dr. Carpenter will be at perfect liberty to beat therewith the last remnant of brains out of the head of any "crazy Spiritualist" he may encounter. But until then, the less he says about Hindû jugglery the better for his scientific reputation.
It is not to be denied that in India, China and elsewhere in the East there are veritable jugglers who exhibit tricks. Equally true is it that some of these performances surpass any with which Western people are acquainted. But these are neither Fakirs nor the performers of the "mango-tree" marvel, as described by Dr. Carpenter. Even this is sometimes imitated both by Indian and European adepts in sleight-of-hand, but under totally different conditions. Modestly following in the rear of the "distinguished civilians" and "scientific officers," I will now narrate something which I have seen with my own eyes.
While at Cawnpur, en route to Benares, the holy city, a lady, my travelling companion, was robbed of the entire contents of a small trunk. Jewelry, dresses, and even her note-book, containing a diary which she had been carefully compiling for over three months, had mysteriously disappeared, without the lock of the valise having been disturbed. Several hours, perhaps a night and a day had passed since the robbery, as we had started at daybreak to explore some neighbouring ruins, still freshly allied with the Nana Sahib's reprisals on the English. My companion's first thought was to call upon the local police; mine for the help of some native gossain (a holy man supposed to be informed of everything) or at least a jadugar, or conjurer. But the ideas of civilization prevailed, and a whole week was wasted in fruitless visits to the chabutara (police-house), and interviews with the kotwal, its chief. In despair, my expedient was at last resorted to, and a gossain procured. We occupied a small bungalow at the extreme end of one of the suburbs, on the right bank of the Ganges, and from the verandah a full view of the river was had, which at that place was very narrow.
Our experiment was made on that verandah in the presence of the family of the landlord—a half-caste Portuguese from the south—my friend and myself and two freshly-imported Frenchmen, who laughed outrageously at our superstition. Time, three o'clock in the afternoon. The heat was suffocating, but notwithstanding, the holy man—a coffee-coloured, living skeleton—demanded that the motion of the pankah (hanging fan worked by a cord) should be stopped. He gave no reason, but it was because the agitation of the air interferes with all delicate magnetic experiments. We had all heard of the "rolling-pot" as an agency for the detection of theft in India—a common iron pot being made, under the influence of a Hindû conjurer, to roll of its own impulse, without any hands touching it, to the very spot where the stolen goods are concealed. The gossain proceeded otherwise. He first of all demanded some article that had been latest in contact with the contents of the valise; a pair of gloves was handed him. He pressed them between his thin palms, and, rolling them over and over again, then dropped them on the floor and proceeded to turn himself slowly around, with arms outstretched and fingers expanded, as though he were seeking the direction in which the property lay. Suddenly he stopped with a jerk, sank gradually to the floor and remained motionless, sitting cross-legged and with his arms still outstretched in the same direction, as though plunged in a cataleptic trance. This lasted for over an hour, which in that suffocating atmosphere was to us one long torture. Suddenly the landlord sprang from his seat to the balustrade, and began intently looking towards the river, in which direction our eyes also turned. Coming from whence, or how, we could not tell, but out there, over the water, and near its surface, was a dark object approaching. What it was we could not make out; but the mass seemed impelled by some interior force to revolve, at first slowly, but then faster and faster as it drew near. It was as though supported on an invisible pavement, and its course was in a direct line as the bee flies. It reached the bank, disappeared again among the high vegetation, and anon, rebounding with force as it leaped over the low garden wall, flew rather than rolled on to the verandah and dropped with a heavy thud under the extended palms of the gossain. A violent, convulsive tremor shook the frame of the old man, as with a deep sigh he opened his half-closed eyes. All were astonished, but the Frenchmen stared at the bundle with an expression of idiotic terror in their eyes. Rising from the ground the holy man opened the tarred canvas envelope, and within were found all the stolen articles down to the least thing. Without a word or waiting for thanks, he salaamed low to the company and disappeared through the doorway, before we recovered from our surprise. We had to run after him a long way before we could press upon him a dozen rupees, which blessings he received in his wooden bowl.
This may appear a very surprising and incredible story to Europeans and Americans who have never been in India. But we have Dr. Carpenter's authority for it, that even his "distinguished civilian" friends and "scientific officers," who are as little likely to sniff out anything mystical there with their aristocratic noses as Dr. Carpenter to see it with his telescopic, microscopic, double-magnifying scientific eyes in England, have witnessed the mango "tree-trick," which is still more wonderful. If the latter is "clever jugglery" the other must be, too. Will the white-cravated and swallow-tailed gentlemen of the Egyptian Hall, please show the Royal Society how either is done?
H. P. BLAVATSKY
THE UNIVERSE IN A NUT-SHELL
From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. II.
Articles by HPB
THE article on dreams alluded to in the following letter is reprinted with the desired explanatory notes for the information of our readers:----
TO THE EDITOR.
The accompanying extract is from an article in a recent issue of Chamber's Journal. I hope you will reprint the same and kindly give full explanations upon the following subjects:--
(l) Are dreams always real? If so, what produces them; if not real, yet may they not have in themselves some deep significance?
(2) Tell us something about our antenatal state of existence and the transmigration of soul?
(3) Give us anything that is worth knowing about Psychology as suggested by this article?
Your most fraternally and obediently,
JEHANGIR CURSETJITARACHAND, F.T.S.
Bombay, November l0, l881
To put our correspondent's request more exactly, he desires the Theosophist to call into the limits of a column or two the facts embraced within the whole range of all the sublunar mysteries with "full explanations." These would embrace--
(1) The complete philosophy of dreams, as deduced from their physiological, biological, psychological and occult aspects.
(2) The Buddhist Jatakas (re-births and migrations of our Lord Sakya-Muni) with a philosophical essay upon the transmigrations of the 387,000 Buddhas who "turned the wheel of faith," during the successive revelations to the world of the 125,000 other Buddhas, the Saints, who can "overlook and unravel the thousand fold knotted threads of the moral chain of causation," throwing in a treatise upon the Nidhanas, the chain of twelve causes with a complete list of their two millions of results, and copious appendices by some Arahats, "who have attained the stream which floats into Nirvana."
(3) The compounded reveries of the world-famous psychologists; from the Egyptian Hermes, and his Book of the Dead; Plato's definition of the Soul, in Timæus; and so on, down to the Drawing Room Nocturnal Chats with a Disembodied Soul, by Rev. Adramelech Romeo Tiberius Toughskin from Cincinnati.
Such is the modest task proposed. Suppose we first give the article which has provoked so great a thirst for philosophical information, and then try to do what we can. It is a curious case--if not altogether a literary fiction:--
DREAM-LAND AND SOMNAMBULISM.
"The writer of this article has a brother-in-law who has felt some of his dreams to be of a remarkable and significant character; and his experience shows that there is a strange and inexplicable connection between such dreams and the state of somnambulism. Before giving in detail some instances of somnambulism as exhibited by him and also by his daughter, I will give an account of one of his dreams, which has been four times repeated in its striking and salient points at uncertain periods, during the past thirty years. He was in his active youth a practical agriculturist, but now lives retired. All his life he has been spare of flesh, active, cheerful, very companionable, and not in any sense what is called a bookworm. His dream was as follows: He found himself alone, standing in front of a monument of very solid masonry, looking vacantly at the north side of it, when to his astonishment, the middle stones on the level of his sight gradually opened and slid down one on another, until an opening was made large enough to uphold a man. All of a sudden, a little man, dressed in black, with a large bald head, appeared inside the opening, seemingly fixed there by reason of his feet and legs being buried in the masonry. The expression of his face was mild and intelligent. They looked at each other for what seemed a long time without either of them attempting to speak, and all the while my brother's astonishment increased. At length, as the dreamer expressed himself, 'The little man in black with the bald head and serene countenance' said: 'Don't you know me? I am the man whom you murdered in an ante-natal state of existence; and I am waiting until you come, and shall wait without sleeping. There is no evidence of the foul deed in your state of human existence, so you need not trouble yourself in your mortal life--shut me again in darkness.'
"The dreamer began, as he thought, to put the stones in their original position, remarking as he expressed himself--to the little man:--'This is all a dream of yours, for there is no ante-natal state of existence.' The little man who seemed to grow less and less, said: 'Cover me over and begone.' At this the dreamer awoke.
"Years passed away, and the dream was forgotten in the common acceptation of the term, when behold! without any previous thought of the matter, he dreamed that he was standing in the sunshine, facing an ancient garden-wall that belonged to a large unoccupied mansion, when the stones in front of it began to fall out with a gently sliding motion, and soon revealed the self-same mysterious person, and everything pertaining to him, including his verbal utterances as on the first occasion, though an uncertain number of years had passed. The same identical dream has since occurred twice at irregular periods; but there was no change in the facial appearance of the little man in black."
Editor's Note.--We do not feel competent to pronounce upon the merits or demerits of this particular dream. The interpretation of it may be safely left with the Daniels of physiology who, like W. A. Hammond, M. D., of New York, explain dreams and somnambulism as due to an exalted condition of the spinal cord. It may have been a meaningless, chance-dream, brought about by a concatenation of thoughts which occupy mechanically the mind during sleep--
That dim twilight of the mind,
--when our mental operations go on independently of our conscious volition.
Our physical senses are the agents by means of which the astral spirit or "conscious something" within, is brought by contact with the external world to a knowledge of actual existence; while the spiritual senses of the astral man are the media, the telegraphic wires by means of which he communicates with his higher principles, and obtains therefrom the faculties of clear perception of, and vision into, the realms of the invisible world.1 [
Footnote: 1. See Editor's Note on the letter that follows this one "Are Dreams but Idle Visions? ] The Buddhist philosopher holds that by the practice of the dhyanas one may reach "the enlightened condition of mind which exhibits itself by immediate recognition of sacred truth, so that on opening the Scriptures (or any books whatsoever?) their true meaning at once flashes into the heart." [Beal's Catena, &c., p. 255.] If the first time, however, the above dream was meaningless, the three following times it may have recurred by the suddenly awakening of that portion of the brain to which it was due--as in dreaming, or in somnambulism, the brain is asleep only in parts, and called into action through the agency of the external senses, owing to some peculiar cause: a word pronounced, a thought, or picture lingering dormant in one of the cells of memory, and awakened by a sudden noise, the fall of a stone, suggesting instantaneously to this half-dreamy fancy of the sleeper walls of masonry, and so on. When one is suddenly startled in his sleep without becoming fully awake, he does not begin and terminate his dream with the simple noise which partially awoke him, but often experiences in his dream, a long train of events concentrated within the brief space of time the sound occupies, and to be attributed solely to that sound. Generally dreams are induced by the waking associations which precede them. Some of them produce such an impression that the slightest idea in the direction of any subject associated with a particular dream may bring its recurrence years after. Tartinia, the famous Italian violinist, composed his "Devil's Sonata" under the inspiration of a dream. During his sleep he thought the Devil appeared to him and challenged him to a trial of skill upon his own private violin, brought by him from the infernal regions, which challenge Tartinia accepted. When he awoke, the melody of the "Devil's Sonata" was so vividly impressed upon his mind that he there and then noted it down; but when arriving towards the finale all further recollection of it was suddenly obliterated, and he lay aside the incomplete piece of music. Two years later, he dreamt the very same thing and tried in his dream to make himself recollect the finale upon awakening. The dream was repeated owing to a blind street-musician fiddling on his instrument under the artist's window. Coleridge composed in a like manner his poem "Kublai Khan," in a dream, which, on awakening, he found so vividly impressed upon his mind that he wrote down the famous lines which are still preserved. The dream was due to the poet falling asleep in his chair while reading in Purcha's "Pilgrimage" the following words: "Here, the Khan Kublai commanded a palace to be built . . . enclosed within a wall."
The popular belief that among the vast number of meaningless dreams there are some in which presages are frequently given of coming events is shared by many well-informed persons, but not at all by science. Yet there are numberless instances of well-attested dreams which were verified by subsequent events, and which, therefore, may be termed prophetic. The Greek and Latin classics teem with records of remarkable dreams, some of which have become historical. Faith in the spiritual nature of dreaming was as widely disseminated among the pagan philosophers as among the Christian fathers of the church, nor is belief in soothsaying and interpretations of dreams (oneiromancy) limited to the heathen nations of Asia, since the Bible is full of them. This is what Eliphas Lévi, the great modern Kabalist, says of such divinations, visions and prophetic dreams.2 [Footnote: 2. Rituel de la Haute Magie, Vol I. p. 356-7 ]
"Somnambulism, premonitions and second sights are but a disposition, whether accidental or habitual, to dream, awake, or during a voluntary, self-induced, or yet natural sleep, i.e., to perceive (and guess by intuition) the analogical reflections of the Astral Light. . . . The paraphernalia and instruments of divinations are simply means for (magnetic) communications between the divinator and him who consults him: they serve to fix and concentrate two wills (bent in the same direction) upon the same sign or object; the queer, complicated, moving figures helping to collect the reflections of the Astral fluid. Thus one is enabled, at times to see in the grounds of a coffee cup, or in the clouds, in the white of an egg, &c., &c., fantastic forms having their existence, but in the translucid (or the seer's imagination). Vision-seeing in the water is produced by the fatigue of the dazzled optic nerve, which ends by ceding its functions to the translucid, and calling forth a cerebral illusion, which makes to seem as real images the simple reflections of the astral light. Thus the fittest persons for this kind of divination are those of a nervous temperament whose sight is meek [weak?] and imagination vivid, children being the best of all adapted for it. But let no one misinterpret the nature of the function attributed by us to imagination in the art of divination. We see through our imagination doubtless, and that is the natural aspect of the miracle; but we see actual and true things, and it is in this that lies the marvel of the natural phenomenon. We appeal for corroboration of what we say to the testimony of all the adepts. . . ."
And now we give room to a second letter which relates to us a dream verified by undeniable events.
ARE DREAMS BUT IDLE VISIONS?
TO THE EDITOR OF THE THEOSOPHIST.
A few months ago, one Babu Jugut Chunder Chatterjee, a Sub Deputy Collector of Morshedabad, in Bengal, was stationed pro tem on duty at Kandi--a sub-division of the Morshedabad District. He had left his wife and children at Berhampore, the head-quarters of the District and was staying at Kandi with Babu Soorji Coomar Basakh (Sub-Deputy Collector of the Sub-Division), at the residence of that gentleman.
Having received orders to do some work at a place some ten miles off from Kandi, in the interior, Babu Jugut Chunder made arrangements accordingly to start the next day. During that night he dreams, seeing his wife attacked with cholera, at Berhampore, and suffering intensely. This troubles his mind. He relates the dream to Babu Soorji Coomar in the morning, and both treating the subject as a meaningless dream, proceed without giving it another thought to their respective business.
After breakfast Babu Jugut Chunder retires to take before starting a short rest. In his sleep he dreams the same dream. He sees his wife suffering from the dire disease acutely, witnesses the same scene, and awakes with a start. He now becomes anxious, and arising, relates again dream No. 2, to Babu Soorji, who knows not what to say. It is then decided, that as Babu Jugut Chunder has to start for the place he is ordered to, his friend, Babu Soorji Coomar will forward to him without delay any letters or news he may receive to his address from Berhampore, and having made special arrangements for this purpose, Babu Jugut Chunder departs.
Hardly a few hours after he had left, arrives a messenger from Berhampore with a letter for Babu Jugut. His friend remembering the mood in which he had left Kandi and fearing bad news, opens the letter and finds it a corroboration of the twice-repeated dream. Babu Jugut's wife was attacked with cholera at Berhampore, on the very night her husband had dreamt of it and was still suffering from it. Having received the news sent on with a special messenger, Babu Jugut returned at once to Berhampore, where immediate assistance being given, the patient eventually recovered.
The above was narrated to me at the house of Babu Lal Cori Mukerjee, at Berhampore, and in his presence, by Babus Jugut Chunder and Soorji Coomar themselves, who had come there on a friendly visit, the story of the dream being thus corroborated by the testimony of one who had been there, to hear of it, at a time when none of them ever thought it would be realized.
The above incident may, I believe, be regarded as a fair instance of the presence of the ever-watchful astral soul of man with a mind independent of that of his own physical brain. I would, however, feel greatly obliged by your kindly giving us an explanation of the phenomenon. Babu Lal Cori Mukerji is a subscriber to the Theosophist and, therefore, this is sure to meet his eye. If he remembers the dates or sees any circumstance omitted or erroneously stated herein, the writer will feel greatly obliged by his furnishing additional details and correcting, if necessary, any error, I may have made after his consulting with the party concerned.
As far as I can recollect the occurrence took place this year 1881.
NAVIN K. SARMANBANERJEE, F.T.S.
Editor's Note.--"Dreams are interludes which fancy makes," Dryden tells us; perhaps to show that even a poet will make occasionally his muse subservient to sciolistic prejudice.
The instance as above given is one of a series of what may be regarded as exceptional cases in dream life, the generality of dreams, being indeed, but "interludes which fancy makes." And, it is the policy of materialistic, matter-of-fact science to superbly ignore such exceptions, on the ground, perchance, that the exception confirms the rule,--we rather think, to avoid the embarrassing task of explaining such exceptions. Indeed, if one single instance stubbornly refuses classification with "strange co-incidences"--so much in favor with sceptics--then, prophetic, or verified dreams would demand an entire remodelling of physiology. As in regard to phrenology, the recognition and acceptance by science of prophetic dreams--(hence the recognition of the claims of Theosophy and Spiritualism)--would, it is contended, "carry with it a new educational, social, political, and theological science." Result: Science will never recognise either dreams, spiritualism, or occultism.
Human nature is an abyss, which physiology and human science in general, has sounded less than some who have never heard the word physiology pronounced. Never are the high censors of the Royal Society more perplexed than when brought face to face with that insolvable mystery--man's inner nature. The key to it is--man's dual being. It is that key that they refuse to use, well aware that if once the door of the adytum be flung open, they will be forced to drop one by one their cherished theories and final conclusions--more than once proved to have been no better than hobbies, false as everything built upon, and starting from false or incomplete premises. If we must remain satisfied with the half explanations of physiology as regards meaningless dreams, how account, in such case for the numerous facts of verified dreams? To say that man is a dual being; that in man--to use the words of Paul--"There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body"--and that, therefore, he must, of necessity, have a double set of senses--is tantamount in the opinion of the educated sceptic, to uttering an unpardonable, most unscientific fallacy. Yet it has to be uttered--science notwithstanding.
Man is undeniably endowed with a double set: with natural or physical senses--these to be safely left to physiology to deal with; and, with sub-natural or spiritual senses belonging entirely to the province of psychological science. The Latin word "sub," let it be well understood, is used here in a sense diametrically opposite to that given to it--in chemistry, for instance. In our case it is not a preposition, but a prefix as in "sub-tonic" or "sub-bass" in music. Indeed, as the aggregate sound of nature is shown to be a single, definite tone, a keynote vibrating from and through eternity; having an undeniable existence per se yet possessing an appreciable pitch but for "the acutely fine ear"3 [Footnote: 3. This tone is held by the specialists o be the middle F of the piano. -Ed. Theosophist ] --so the definite harmony or disharmony of man's external nature is seen by the observant to depend wholly on the character of the keynote struck for the outer by inner man. It is the spiritual EGO or SELF that serves as the fundamental base, determining the tone of the whole life of man--that most capricious, uncertain and variable of all instruments, and which more than any other needs constant tuning; it is its voice alone, which like the sub-bass of an organ underlies the melody of his whole life--whether its tones are sweet or harsh, harmonious or wild, legato or pizzicato.
Therefore, we say, man, in addition to the physical, has also a spiritual brain. If the former is wholly dependent for the degree of its receptivity on its own physical structure and development, it is, on the other hand, entirely subordinate to the latter, inasmuch as it is the spiritual Ego alone, and accordingly as it leans more towards its two highest principles,4 [Footnote: 4. The sixth principle, or spiritual soul, and the seventh -its purely spiritual principle, the "Spirit" or Parabrahm, the emaation from the unconscious ABSOLUTE (See "Fragments of Occult Truth," October number Theosophist, 1881) ] or towards its physical shell that can impress more or less vividly the outer brain with the perception of things purely spiritual or immaterial. Hence it depends on the acuteness of the mental feelings of the inner Ego, on the degree of spirituality of its faculties, to transfer the impression of the scenes its semi-spiritual brain perceives, the words it hears and what it feels, to the sleeping physical brain of the outer man. The stronger the spirituality of the faculties of the latter, the easier it will be for the Ego to awake the sleeping hemispheres, arouse into activity the sensory ganglia and the cerebellum, and to impress the former--always in full inactivity and rest during the deep sleep of man with the vivid picture of the subject so transferred. In a sensual, unspiritual man, in one, whose mode of life and animal proclivities and passions have entirely disconnected his fifth principle or animal, astral Ego from its higher "Spiritual Soul"; as also in him whose hard, physical labour has so worn out the material body as to render him temporarily insensible to the voice and touch of his Astral Soul--during sleep the brains of both these men remain in a complete state of anæmia or full inactivity. Such persons rarely, if ever, will have any dreams at all, least of all "visions that come to pass." In the former, as the waking time approaches, and his sleep becomes lighter, the mental changes beginning to take place, they will constitute dreams in which intelligence will play no part; his half-awakened brain suggesting but pictures which are only the hazy grotesque reproductions of his wild habits in life; while in the latter--unless strongly preoccupied with some exceptional thought--his ever present instinct of active habits will not permit him to remain in that state of semi-sleep during which consciousness beginning to return we see dreams of various kinds, but will arouse him, at once, and without any interlude to full wakefulness. On the other hand, the more spiritual a man, the more active his fancy, and the greater probability of his receiving in vision the correct impressions conveyed to him by his all-seeing, his ever-wakeful Ego. The spiritual senses of the latter, unimpeded as they are by the interference of the physical senses, are in direct intimacy with his highest spiritual principle; and the latter though per se quasi-unconscious part of the utterly unconscious, because utterly immaterial Absolute5--yet having in itself inherent capabilities of Omniscience, Omnipresence and Omnipotence which as soon as the pure essence comes in contact with pure sublimated and (to us) imponderable matter--imparts these attributes in a degree to the as pure Astral Ego. Hence highly spiritual persons, will see visions and dreams during sleep and even in their hours of wakefulness: these are the sensitives, the natural-born seers, now loosely termed "spiritual mediums," there being no distinction made between a subjective seer, a neurypnological subject, and even an adept--one who has made himself independent of his physiological idiosyncracies and has entirely subjected the outer to the inner man. Those less spiritually endowed, will see such dreams but at rare intervals, the accuracy of the latter depending on the intensity of their feeling in regard to the perceived object.
Had Babu Jugut Chunder's case been more seriously gone into, we would have learned that for one or several reasons, either he or his wife was intensely attached to the other; or that the question of her life or death was of the greatest importance to either one or both of them. "One soul sends a message to another soul"--is an old saying. Hence, premonitions, dreams, and visions. At all events, and in this dream at least, there were no "disembodied" spirits at work, the warning being solely due to either one or the other, or both of the two living and incarnated Egos.
Thus, in this question of verified dreams, as in so many others, Science stands before an unsolved problem, the insolvable nature of which has been created by her own materialistic stubbornness, and her time-cherished routine-policy. For, either man is a dual being, with an inner Ego6 in him, this Ego "the real" man, distinct from, and independent of the outer man proportionally to the prevalency or weakness of the material body; an Ego the scope of whose senses stretches far beyond the limit granted to the physical senses of man; an Ego which survives the decay of its external covering--at least for a time, even when an evil course of life has made him fail to achieve a perfect union with its spiritual higher Self, i.e., to blend its individuality with it, (the personality gradually fading out in each case); or--the testimony of millions of men embracing several thousands of years; the evidence furnished in our own century by hundreds of the most educated men--often by the greatest lights of science--all this evidence, we say, goes to naught. With the exception of a handful of scientific authorities, surrounded by an eager crowd of sceptics and sciolists, who having never seen anything, claim, therefore, the right of denying everything--the world stands condemned as a gigantic Lunatic Asylum! It has, however, a special department in it. It is reserved for those, who, having proved the soundness of their mind, must, of necessity be regarded as IMPOSTORS and LIARS. . . . .
Has then the phenomenon of dreams been so thoroughly studied by materialistic science, that she has nothing more to learn, since she speaks in such authoritative tones upon the subject? Not in the least. The phenomena of sensation and volition, of intellect and instinct, are, of course, all manifested through the channels of the nervous centers the most important of which is the brain. Of the peculiar substance through which these actions take place--a substance the two forms of which are the vesicular and the fibrous, the latter is held to be simply the propagator of the impressions sent to or from the vesicular matter. Yet while this physiological office is distinguished, or divided by Science into three kinds--the motor, sensitive and connecting--the mysterious agency of intellect remains as mysterious and as perplexing to the great physiologists as it was in the days of Hippocrates. The scientific suggestion that there may be a fourth series associated with the operations of thought has not helped towards solving the problem; it has failed to shed even the slightest ray of light on the unfathomable mystery. Nor will they ever fathom it unless our men of Science accept the hypothesis of DUAL MAN.
H. P. Blavatsky
Theosophist. January. 1882
WAR IN OLYMPUS
From A Modern Panarian and H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. II.
Articles by HPB
DARK clouds are gathering over the hitherto cold and serene horizon of exact science, which forebode a squall. Already two camps are forming among the votaries of scientific research. One wages war on the other, and hard words are occasionally exchanged. The apple of discord in this case is--Spiritualism. Fresh and illustrious victims are yearly decoyed away from the impregnable strongholds of materialistic negation, and ensnared into examining and testing the alleged spiritual phenomena. And we all know that when a true scientist examines them without prejudice . . . well, he generally ends like Professor Hare, Mr. William Crookes, F.R.S., the great Alfred Russell Wallace, another F.R.S., and so many other eminent men of science--he passes over to the enemy.
We are really curious to know what will be the new theory advanced in the present crisis by the sceptics, and how they will account for such an apostasy of several of their luminaries, as has just occurred. The venerable accusations of non compos mentis, and "dotage" will not bear another refurbishing: the eminent perverts are increasing numerically so fast, that if mental incapacity is charged upon all of them who experimentally satisfy themselves that tables can talk sense, and mediums float through the air, it might augur ill for science; there might soon be none but weakened brains in the learned societies. They may, possibly, for a time find some consolation in accounting for the lodgment of the extraordinary "delusion" in very scholarly heads, upon the theory of atavism--the mysterious law of latent transmission, so much favoured by the modern schools of Darwinian evolutionism especially in Germany, as represented by that thorough-going apostle of "modern struggle for culture," Ernst-Haeckel, professor at Jena. They may attribute the belief of their colleagues in the phenomena, to certain molecular movements of the cell in the ganglia of their once powerful brains, hereditarily transmitted to them by their ignorant medieval ancestors. Or, again, they may split their ranks, and establishing an imperium in imperio [state within a state -BNet] "divide and conquer" still. All this is possible; but time alone will show which of the parties will come off best.
We have been led to these reflections by a row now going on between German and Russian professors--all eminent and illustrious savants [learned scholars BNet]. The Teutons and Slavs, in the case under observation. are not fighting according to their nationality but conformably to their respective beliefs and unbeliefs. Having concluded, for the occasion. an offensive as well as a defensive alliance, regardless of race--they have broken up in two camps, one representing the spiritualists, and the other the sceptics. And now war to the knife is declared. Leading one party, are Professors Zöllner, Ulrizzi, and Fichte, Butlerof and Wagner, of the Leipzig, Halle and St. Petersburg Universities; the other follows Professors Wundt, Mendeleyof, and a host of other German and Russian celebrities. Hardly has Zöllner--a most renowned astronomer and physicist--printed his confessions of faith in Dr. Slade's mediumistic phenomena and set his learned colleagues aghast when Professor Ulrizzi of the Halle University arouses the wrath of the Olympus of science by publishing a pamphlet entitled "The so-called Spiritualism a Scientific Question," intended as a complete refutation of the arguments of Professor Wundt, of the Leipzig University, against the modem belief, and contained in another pamphlet called by its author "spiritualism--the so-called scientific question." And now steps in another active combatant, Mr. Butlerof, Professor of Chemistry and Natural Sciences, of St. Petersburg, who narrates his experiments in London, with the medium Williams, and thus rouses up a most ferocious polemic. The humoristical illustrated paper Kladderadatch executes a war-dance, and shouts with joy, while the more serious conservative papers are indignant. Pressed behind their last entrenchments by the cool and uncontrovertible assertions of a most distinguished naturalist, the critics led forward by the St. Petersburg star, Mr. Bourenine, seem desperate, and evidently short of ammunition, since they are reduced to the expedient of trying to rout the enemy with the most remarkable paradoxes. The pro and con of the dispute are too interesting, and our posterity might complain, were the incidents suffered to be left beyond the reach of English and American readers interested in Spiritualism, by remaining confined to the German and Russian newspapers. So, Homer-like, we will follow the combatants and condense this modern Iliad for the benefit of our friends.
After several years of diligent research and investigation of the phenomena, Messrs. Wagner and Butlerof, both distinguished savants and professors in St. Petersburg University, became thoroughly convinced of the reality of the weird manifestations. As a result, both wrote numerous and strong articles in the leading periodicals in defence of the "mischievous epidemic"--as in his moments of "unconscious cerebration" and "prepossession" in favour of his own hobby, Dr. Carpenter calls spiritualism. Both of the above eminent gentlemen, are endowed with those precious qualities, which are the more to be respected as they are so seldom met with among our men of science. These qualities, admitted by their critic himself, Mr. Bourenine, are: (1) a serious and profound conviction that what they defend is true; (2) an unwavering courage in stating at every hazard, before a prejudiced and inimical public that such is their conviction; (3) clearness and consecutiveness in their statements; (4) the serene calmness and impartiality with which they treat the opinions of their opponents; (5) a full and profound acquaintance with the subject under discussion. The combination of the qualities enumerated, adds their critic, "leads us to regard the recent article by Professor Butlerof, Empiricism and Dogmatism in the Domain of Mediumship, as one of those essays whose commending significance cannot be denied and which are sure to strongly impress the readers. Such articles are positively rare in our periodicals; rare because of the originality of the author's conclusions; and because of the clear, precise, and serious presentation of facts" . . . .
The article so eulogized may be summed up in a few words. We will not stop to enumerate the marvels of spiritual phenomena witnessed by Professor Zöllner with Dr. Slade and defended by Prof. Butlerof, since they are no more marvellous than the latter gentlemen's personal experience in this direction with Mr. Williams, a medium of London, in 1876. The séances took place in a London hotel in the room occupied by the Honorable Alexandre Aksakof, Russian Imperial Councillor, in which, with the exception of this gentleman, there were but two other persons,--Prof. Butlerof and the medium. Confederacy was thus utterly impossible. And now, what took place under these conditions, which so impressed one of the first scientists of Russia? Simply this: Mr. Williams, the medium, was made to sit with his hands, feet, and even his person tightly bound with cords to his chair, which was placed in a dead-wall corner of the room, behind Mr. Butlerof's plaid hung across so as to form a screen. Williams soon fell into a kind of lethargic stupor, known among spiritualists as the trance condition, and "spirits" began to appear before the eyes of the investigators. Various voices were heard, and loud sentences, pronounced by the "invisibles," from every part of the room; things--toilet appurtenances and so forth, began flying in every direction through the air; and finally "John King"--a sort of king of the spooks, who has been famous for years--made his appearance bodily. But we must allow Prof. Butlerof to tell his phenomenal story himself. "We first saw moving"--he writes--"several bright lights in the air, and immediately after that appeared the full figure of 'John King.' His apparition is generally preceded by a greenish phosphoric light which, gradually becoming brighter, illuminates more and more, the whole bust of John King. Then it is that those present perceive that the light emanates from some kind of a luminous object held by the 'spirit.' The face of a man with a thick black beard becomes clearly distinguishable; the head is enveloped in a white turban. The figure appears outside the cabinet (that is to say, the screened corner where the medium sat), and finally approaches us. We saw it each time for a few seconds; then rapidly waning, the light was extinguished and the figure became invisible to reappear again in a moment or two; then from the surrounding darkness, 'John's' voice is heard proceeding from the spot on which he had appeared mostly, though not always, when he had already disappeared. 'John' asked us 'what can I do for you?' and Mr. Aksakof requested him to rise up to the ceiling and from there speak to us. In accordance with the wish expressed, the figure suddenly appeared above the table and towered majestically above our heads to the ceiling which became all illuminated with the luminous object held in the spirit's hand, when 'John' was quite under the ceiling he shouted down to us: 'Will that do?'"
During another séance M. Butlerof asked "John" to approach him quite near, which the "spirit" did, and so gave him the opportunity of seeing clearly "the sparkling, clear eyes of John." Another spirit, "Peter," though he never put in a visible appearance during the séances, yet conversed with Messrs. Butlerof and Aksakof, wrote for them on paper furnished by them, and so forth.
Though the learned professor minutely enumerates all the precautions he had taken against possible fraud, the critic is not yet satisfied, and asks, pertinently enough: "Why did not the respectable savant catch 'John' in his arms, when the spirit was but at a foot's distance from him? Again, why did not both Messrs. Aksakof and Butlerof try to get hold of 'John's' legs, when he was mounting to the ceiling? Indeed they ought to have done all this, if they are really so anxious to learn the truth for their own sake, as for that of science, when they struggle to lead on toward the domains of the 'other world.' And, had they complied with such a simple and, at the same time, very little scientific test, there would be no more need for them, perhaps, to . . . further explain the scientific importance of the spiritual manifestations."
That this importance is not exaggerated, and has as much significance for the world of science, as for that of religious thought, is proved by so many philosophical minds speculating upon the modern "delusion." This is what Fichte, the learned German savant, says of it. "Modern spiritualism chiefly proves the existence of that which, in common parlance, is very vaguely and inaptly termed 'apparition of spirits.' If we concede the reality of such apparitions, then they become an undeniable, practical proof of the continuation of our personal, conscious existence (beyond the portals of death). And such a tangible, fully demonstrated fact cannot be otherwise but beneficent in this epoch, which, having fallen into a dreary genial of immortality, thinks, in the proud self-sufficiency of its vast intellect, that it has already happily left behind it every superstition of the kind." If such a tangible evidence could be really found, and demonstrated to us, beyond any doubt or cavil, reasons Fichte further on,--"if the reality of the continuation of our lives after death were furnished us upon positive proof, in strict accordance with the logical elements of experimental nature sciences, then it would be, indeed, a result with which, owing to its nature and peculiar signification for humanity, no other result to be met with in all the history of civilization could be compared. The old problem about man's destination upon earth would be thus solved, and consciousness in humanity would be elevated one step. That which, hitherto, could be revealed to man but in the domain of blind faith, presentiment, and passionate hope, would become to him--positive knowledge; he would have acquired the certainty that he was a member of an eternal, a spiritual world, in which he would continue living, and that his temporary existence upon this earth forms but a fractional portion of a future eternal life, and that it is only there that he would be enabled to perceive, and fully comprehend his real destination. Having acquired this profound conviction, mankind would be thoroughly impressed with a new and animating comprehension of life, and its intellectual perceptions opened to an idealism strong with incontrovertible facts. This would prove tantamount to a complete reconstruction of man in relation to his existence as an entity and mission upon earth; it would be, so to say, a 'new birth.' Whoever has lost all inner convictions as to his eternal destination, his faith in eternal life, whether the case be that of an isolated individuality, a whole nation, or the representative of a certain epoch, he or it may be regarded as having had uprooted, and to the very core, all sense of that invigorating force which alone lends itself to self-devotion and to progress. Such a man becomes what was inevitable--an egotistical, selfish, sensual being, concerned wholly for his self-preservation. His culture, his enlightenment, and civilization, can serve him but as a help and ornamentation toward that life of sensualism, or, at best, to guard him from all that can harm it."
Such is the enormous importance attributed by Professor Fichte and Professor Butlerof of Germany and Russia to the spiritual phenomena; and we may say the feeling is more than sincerely echoed in England by Mr. A. R. Wallace, F.R.S. (See his "Miracles and Modern Spiritualism.")
An influential American scientific journal uses an equally strong language when speaking of the value that a scientific demonstration of the survival of the human soul would have for the world. If spiritualism prove true, it says, "it will become the one grand event of the world's history; it will give an imperishable lustre of glory to the Nineteenth Century. Its discoverer will have no rival in renown, and his name will be written high above any other. . . . If the pretensions of Spiritualism have a rational foundation, no more important work has been offered to men of science than their verification." (Scientific American, 1874, as quoted in Olcott's "People from the Other World," p. v, Pref.)
And now we will see what the stubborn Russian critic (who seems to be but the mouthpiece of European materialistic science) has to say in response to the unanswerable arguments and logic of Messrs. Fichte and Butlerof. If scepticism has no stronger arguments to oppose to spiritualism but the following original paradox, then we will have to declare it worsted in the dispute. Instead of the beneficial results foretold by Fichte in the case of the final triumph of spiritualism, the critic forecasts quite a different state of things.
"As soon," he says, "as such scientific methods shall have demonstrated, beyond doubt or cavil, to the general satisfaction, that our world is crammed with souls of men who have preceded us, and whom we will all join in turn; as soon as it shall be proven that these 'souls of the deceased' can communicate with mortals, all the earthly physical science of the eminent scholars will vanish like a soap-bubble, and will have lost all its interest for us living men. Why should people care for their proportionately short life upon earth, once that they have the positive assurance and conviction of another life to come after the bodily death; a death which does not in the least preclude conscious relations with the world of the living, or even their post-mortem participation in all its interests? Once, that with the help of science, based on mediumistic experiments and the discoveries of spiritualism, such relations shall have been firmly established, they will naturally become with every day more and more intimate; an extraordinary friendship will ensue between this and the 'other' worlds; that other world will begin divulging to this one the most occult mysteries of life and death, and the hitherto most inaccessible laws of the universe--those which now exact the greatest efforts of man's mental powers. Finally, nothing will remain for us in this temporary world to either do or desire, but to pass away as soon as possible into the world of eternity. No inventions, no observations, no sciences will be any more needed.!! Why should people exercise their brains, for instance, in perfecting the telegraphs, when nothing else will be required but to be on good terms with spirits in order to avail of their services for the instantaneous transmission of thoughts and objects, not only from Europe to America, but even to the moon, if so desired? The following are a few of the results which a communion de facto between this world and the 'other', that certain men of science are hoping to establish by the help of spiritualism, will inevitably lead us to: to the complete extinction of all science, and even of the human race, which will be ever rushing onward to a better life. The learned and scholarly phantasists who are so anxious to promote the science of spiritualism, i.e., of a close communication between the two worlds, ought to bear the above in mind."
To which, the "scholarly phantasists" would be quite warranted in answering that one would have to bring his own mind to the exact measure of microscopic capacity required to elaborate such a theory as this, before he could take it into consideration at all. Is the above meant to be offered as an objection for serious consideration? Strange logic! We are asked to believe that, because these men of science, who now believe in naught but matter, and thus try to fit every phenomenon--even of a mental, and spiritual character,--within the Procrustean bed of their own preconceived hobbies, would find themselves, by the mere strength of circumstances forced, in their turn, to fit these cherished hobbies to truth, however unwelcome, and to facts wherever found--that because of that, science will lose all its charm for humanity. Nay--life itself will become a burden! There are millions upon millions of people who, without believing in spiritualism at all, yet have faith in another and a better world. And were that blind faith to become positive knowledge indeed, it could but better humanity.
Before closing his scathing criticism upon the "credulous men of science," our reviewer sends one more bomb in their direction, which unfortunately like many other explosive shells misses the culprits and wounds the whole group of their learned colleagues. We translate the missile verbatim, this time for the benefit of all the European and American academicians.
"The eminent professor," he adds, speaking of Butlerof, and his article, "among other things, makes the most of the strange fact that spiritualism gains with every day more and more converts within the corporation of our great scientists. He enumerates a long list of English and German names among illustrious men of science, who have more or less confessed themselves in favor of the spiritual doctrines. Among these names we find such as are quite authoritative, those of the greatest luminaries of science. Such a fact is, to say the least, very striking, and in any case, lends a great weight to spiritualism. But we have only to ponder coolly over it, to come very easily to the conclusion that it is just among such great men of science that spiritualism is most likely to spread and find ready converts. With all their powerful intellects and gigantic knowledge, our great scholars are firstly men of sedentary habits, and, secondly, they are, with scarcely an exception, men with diseased and shattered nerves, inclined toward an abnormal development of an overstrained brain. Such sedentary men are the easiest to hoodwink; a clever charlatan will make an easier prey of, and bamboozle with far more facility a scholar than an unlearned but practical man. Hallucination will far sooner get hold of persons inclined to nervous receptivity, especially if they once concentrate themselves upon some peculiar ideas, or a favourite hobby. This, I believe, will explain the fact that we see so many men of science enrolling themselves in the army of spiritualists."
We need not stop to enquire how Messrs. Tyndall, Huxley, Darwin, Herbert Spencer, Lewes, and other eminent scientific and philosophical sceptics, will like such a prospect of rickety ganglionic centres, collective softening of the brain, and the resulting "hallucinations." The argument is not only an impertinent naiveté, but a literary monstrosity.
We are far from agreeing entirely with the views of Professor Butlerof, or even Mr. Wallace, as to the agencies at work behind the modern phenomena; yet between the extremes of spiritual negation and affirmation, there ought to be a middle ground; only pure philosophy can establish truth upon firm principles; and no philosophy can be complete unless it embraces both physics and metaphysics. Mr. Tyndall, who declares ("Science and Man") that "Metaphysics will be welcomed when it abandons its pretensions to scientific discovery, and consents to be ranked as a kind of poetry," opens himself to the criticism of posterity. Meanwhile, he must not regard it as an impertinence if his spiritualistic opponents retort with the answer that "physics will always be welcomed, when it abandons its pretensions to psychological discovery." The physicists will have to consent to be regarded in a near future as no more than supervisors and analysts of physical results, who have to leave the spiritual causes to those who believe in them. Whatever the issue of the present quarrel, we fear, though, that spiritualism has made its appearance a century too late. Our age is pre-eminently one of extremes. The earnest philosophical, yet reverent doubters are few, and the name for those who rush to the opposite extreme is--Legion. We are the children of our century. Thanks to that same law of atavism, it seems to have inherited from its parent--the eighteenth--century of both Voltaire and Jonathan Edwards--all its extreme scepticism, and, at the same time, religious credulity and bigoted intolerance. Spiritualism is an abnormal and premature outgrowth, standing between the two; and, though it stands right on the high-way to truth, its ill-defined beliefs make it wander on through by-paths which lead to anything but philosophy. Its future depends wholly upon the timely help it can receive from honest science--that science which scorns no truth. It was, perhaps, when thinking of the opponents of the latter, that Alfred de Musset wrote the following magnificent apostrophe:--
Sleepest thou content, Voltaire;
H. P. BLAVATSKY
Theosophist, November, 1879
VIEWS OF THE THEOSOPHISTS
From A Modern Panarian
Articles by HPB
PERMIT a humble Theosophist to appear for the first time in your columns, to say a few words in defence of our beliefs. I see in your issue of December 21st ultimo, one of your correspondents, Mr. J. Croucher, makes the following very bold assertions:
Had the Theosophists thoroughly comprehended the nature of the soul and spirit, and its relation to the body, they would have known that if the soul once leaves, it leaves for ever.
This is so ambiguous that, unless he uses the term "soul" to designate only the vital principle, I can only suppose that he falls into the common error of calling the astral body, spirit, and the immortal essence, "soul." We Theosophists, as Col. Olcott has told you, do vice versâ.
Besides the unwarranted imputation on us of ignorance, Mr. Croucher has an idea (peculiar to himself) that the problem which has heretofore taxed the powers of the metaphysicians in all ages has been solved in our own. It is hardly to be supposed that Theosophists or any others "thoroughly" comprehend the nature of the soul and spirit, and their relation to the body. Such an achievement is for Omniscience, and we Theosophists treading the path worn by the footsteps of the old Sages in the moving sands of exoteric philosophy, can only hope to approximate to the absolute truth. It is really more than doubtful whether Mr. Croucher can do better, even though an "inspirational medium,'' and experienced "through constant sittings with one of the best trance mediums" in your country. I may well leave to time and Spiritual Philosophy to entirely vindicate us in the far hereafter. When any Œdipus of this or the next century shall have solved this eternal enigma of the Sphinx—man, every modern dogma, not excepting some pets of the Spiritualists, will be swept away, as the Theban monster, according to the legend, leaped from his promontory into the sea, and was seen no more.
As early as February 18th, 1876, your learned correspondent, "M.A. Oxon.," took occasion, in an article entitled "Soul and Spirit," to point out the frequent confusion of the terms by other writers. As things are no better now, I will take the opportunity to show how sorely Mr. Croucher, and many other Spiritualists of whom he may be taken as the spokesman, misapprehend Col. Olcott's meaning and the views of the New York Theosophists. Col. Olcott neither affirmed nor dreamed of implying that the immortal spirit leaves the body to produce the medial displays. And yet Mr. Croucher evidently thinks he did, for the word "spirit" to him means the inner, astral man, or double. Here is what Col. Olcott did say, double commas and all:
That mediumistic physical phenomena are not produced by pure spirits, but by "souls" embodied or disembodied, and usually with the help of Elementals.
Any intelligent reader must perceive that, in placing the word "souls" in quotation marks, the writer indicated that he was using it in a sense not his own. As a Theosophist, he would more properly and philosophically have said for himself "astral spirits" or "astral men," or doubles. Hence, the criticism is wholly without even a foundation of plausibility. I wonder that a man could be found who, on so frail a basis, would have attempted so sweeping a denunciation. As it is, our President only propounded the trine of man, like the ancient and Oriental Philosophers and their worthy imitator Paul, who held that the physical corporeity, the flesh and blood, was permeated and so kept alive by the Psuche, the soul or astral body. This doctrine, that man is trine—spirit or Nous, soul and body—was taught by the Apostle of the Gentiles more broadly and clearly than it has been by any of his Christian successors (see 1 Thess., v. 23). But having evidently forgotten or neglected to "thoroughly" study the transcendental opinions of the ancient Philosophers and the Christian Apostle upon the subject, Mr. Croucher views the soul (Psuche) as spirit (Nous) and vice versâ.
The Buddhists, who separate the three entities in man (though viewing them as one when on the path to Nirvâna), yet divide the soul into several parts, and have names for each of these and their functions. Thus confusion is unknown among them. The old Greeks did likewise, holding that Psuche was bios, or physical life, and it was thumos, or passional nature, the animals being accorded but the lower faculty of the soul instinct. The soul or Psyche is itself a combination, consensus or unity of the bios, or physical vitality, the epithumia or concupiscible nature, and the phrên, mens or mind. Perhaps the animus ought to be included. It is constituted of ethereal substance, which pervades the whole universe, and is derived wholly from the soul of the world—Anima Mundi or the Buddhist Svabhâvat—which is not spirit; though intangible and impalpable, it is yet, by comparison with spirit or pure abstraction, objective matter. By its complex nature, the soul may descend and ally itself so closely to the corporeal nature as to exclude a higher life from exerting any moral influence upon it. On the other hand, it can so closely attach itself to the Nous or spirit, as to share its potency, in which case its vehicle, physical man, will appear as a God even during his terrestrial life. Unless such union of soul and spirit does occur, either during this life or after physical death, the individual man is not immortal as an entity. The Psyche is sooner or later disintegrated. Though the man may have gained "the whole world," he has lost his "soul." Paul, when teaching the anastasis, or continuation of individual spiritual life after death, set forth that there was a physical body which was raised in incorruptible substance.
The spiritual body is most assuredly not one of the bodies, or visible or tangible larvae, which form in circle-rooms, and are so improperly termed "materialized spirits." When once the metanoia, the full developing of spiritual life, has lifted the spiritual body out of the psychical (the disembodied, corruptible, astral man, what Col. Olcott calls "soul"), it becomes, in strict ratio with its progress, more and more an abstraction for the corporeal senses. It can influence, inspire, and even communicate with men subjectively; it can make itself felt, and even, in those rare instances when the clairvoyant is perfectly pure and perfectly lucid, be seen by the inner eye (which is the eye of the purified Psyche—soul). But how can it ever manifest objectively?
It will be seen, then, that to apply the term "spirit" to the materialized eidola of your "form-manifestations" is grossly improper, and something ought to be done to change the practice, since scholars have begun to discuss the subject. At best, when not what the Greeks termed phantasma, they are but phasma or apparitions.
In scholars, speculators, and especially in our modern savants, the psychical principle is more or less pervaded by the corporeal, and "the things of the spirit are foolishness and impossible to be known" (1 Cor., ii. 14). Plato was then right, in his way, in despising land-measuring, geometry and arithmetic, for all these overlooked all high ideas. Plutarch taught that at death Proserpine separated the body and the soul entirely, after which the latter became a free and independent demon (daimon). Afterward the good underwent a second dissolution: Demeter divided the Psyche from the Nous or Pneuma. The former was dissolved after a time into ethereal particles—hence the inevitable dissolution and subsequent annihilation of the man who at death is purely psychical; the latter, the Nous, ascended to its higher divine power and became gradually a pure, divine spirit. Kapila, in common with all Eastern Philosophers, despised the purely psychical nature. It is this agglomeration of the grosser particles of the soul, the mesmeric exhalations of human nature imbued with all its terrestrial desires and propensities, its vices, imperfections and weakness, forming the astral body, which can become objective under certain circumstances, which the Buddhists call the Skandhas (the groups), and Col. Olcott has for convenience termed the "soul." The Buddhists and Brâhmans teach that the man's individuality is not secured until he has passed through and become disembarrassed of the last of these groups, the final vestige of earthly taint. Hence their doctrine of metempsychosis, so ridiculed and so utterly misunderstood by our greatest Orientalists.
Even the physicists teach us that the particles composing physical man are, by evolution, reworked by nature into every variety of inferior physical form. Why, then, are the Buddhists unphilosophical or even unscientific, in affirming that the semi-material Skandhas of the astral man (his very ego, up to the point of final purification) are appropriated to the evolution of minor astral forms (which, of course, enter into the purely physical bodies of animals) as fast as he throws them off in his progress toward Nirvâna? Therefore, we may correctly say, that so long as the disembodied man is throwing off a single particle of these Skandhas, a portion of him is being reïncarnated in the bodies of plants and animals. And if he, the disembodied astral man, be so material that "Demeter" cannot find even one spark of the Pneuma to carry up to the "divine power," then the individual, so to speak, is dissolved, piece by piece, into the crucible of evolution, or, as the Hindus allegorically illustrate it, he passes thousands of years in the bodies of impure animals. Here we see how completely the ancient Greek and Hindu Philosophers, the modern Oriental schools, and the Theosophists, are ranged on one side, in perfect accord, and the bright array of "inspirational mediums" and "spirit guides" stand in perfect discord on the other. Though no two of the latter, unfortunately, agree as to what is and what is not truth, yet they do agree with unanimity to antagonize whatever of the teachings of the Philosophers we may repeat.
Let it not be inferred, though, from this, that I, or any other real Theosophist, undervalue true spiritual phenomena or philosophy, or that we do not believe in the communication between mortals and pure Spirits, any less than we do in communication between bad men and bad Spirits, or even of good men with bad Spirits under bad conditions. Occultism is the essence of Spiritualism, while modern or popular Spiritualism I cannot better characterize than as adulterated unconscious Magic. We go so far as to say that all the great and noble characters, all the grand geniuses, the poets, painters, sculptors, musicians, all who have worked at any time for the realization of their highest ideal, irrespective of selfish ends—have been spiritually inspired; not mediums, as many Spiritualists call them—passive tools in the hands of controlling guides—but incarnate, illuminated souls, working consciously in collaboration with the pure disembodied human and new-embodied high Planetary Spirits, for the elevation and spiritualization of mankind. We believe that everything in material life is most intimately associated with spiritual agencies. As regards physical phenomena and mediumship, we believe that it is only when the passive medium has given place, or rather grown into, the conscious mediator, that he discerns between Spirits good and bad. And we do believe, and know also, that while the incarnate man (though the highest Adept) cannot vie in potency with the pure disembodied Spirits, who, freed of all their Skandhas, have become subjective to the physical senses, yet he can perfectly equal, and can far surpass in the way of phenomena, mental or physical, the average "Spirit" of modern mediumship. Believing this, you will perceive that we are better Spiritualists, in the true acceptation of the word, than so-called Spiritualists, who, instead of showing the reverence we do to true Spirits—Gods—debase the name of Spirit by applying it to the impure, or at best, imperfect beings who produce the majority of the phenomena.
The two objections urged by Mr. Croucher against the claim of the Theosophists, that a child is but a duality at birth, "and perhaps until the sixth or seventh year," and that some depraved persons are annihilated at some time after death, are (1) the mediums have described to him his three children "who passed away at the respective ages of two, four, and six years"; and (2) that he has known persons who were "very depraved" on earth come back. He says:
These statements have been afterwards confirmed by glorious beings who came after, and who have proved by their mastery of the laws which are governing the universe, that they are worthy of being believed.
I am really happy to hear that Mr. Croucher is competent to sit in judgment upon these "glorious beings," and give them the palm over Kapila, Manu, Plato, and even Paul. It is worth something, after all, to be an "inspirational medium." We have no such "glorious beings" in the Theosophical Society to learn from; but it is evident that while Mr. Croucher sees and judges things through his emotional nature, the Philosophers whom we study took nothing from any "glorious being" that did not perfectly accord with the universal harmony, justice, and equilibrium of the manifested plan of the Universe. The Hermetic axiom, "as below, so above," is the only rule of evidence accepted by the Theosophists. Believing in a spiritual and invisible Universe, we cannot conceive of it in any other way than as completely dovetailing and corresponding with the material, objective Universe; for logic and observation alike teach us that the latter is the outcome and visible manifestation of the former, and that the laws governing both are immutable.
In this letter of Dec. 7th Colonel Olcott very appropriately illustrates his subject of potential immortality by citing the admitted physical law of the survival of the fittest. The rule applies to the greatest as to the smallest things, to the planet equally with the plant. It applies to man. And the imperfectly developed man-child can no more exist under the conditions prepared for the perfected types of its species, than can an imperfect plant or animal. In infantile life the higher faculties are not developed, but, as everyone knows, are only in the germ, or rudimentary. The babe is an animal, however "angelic" he may, and naturally enough ought to, appear to his parents. Be it ever so beautifully modelled, the infant body is but the jewel-casket preparing for the jewel. It is bestial, selfish, and, as a babe, nothing more. Little of even the soul, Psyche, can be perceived except so far as vitality is concerned; hunger, terror, pain and pleasure appear to be the principal of its conceptions. A kitten is its superior in everything but possibilities. The grey neurine of the brain is equally unformed. After a time mental qualities begin to appear, but they relate chiefly to external matters. The cultivation of the mind of the child by teachers can only affect this part of the nature—what Paul calls natural or physical, and James and Jude sensual or psychical. Hence the words of Jude, "psychical, having not the spirit," and of Paul:
The psychical man receiveth not the things of the spirit, for to him they are foolishness; the spiritual man discerneth.
It is only the man of full age, with his faculties disciplined to discern good and evil, whom we can denominate spiritual, noetic, intuitive. Children developed in such respects would be precocious, abnormal abortions.
Why, then, should a child who has never lived other than an animal life; who never discerned right from wrong; who never cared whether he lived or died—since he could not understand either of life or death—become individually immortal? Man's cycle is not complete until he has passed through the earth-life. No one stage of probation and experience can be skipped over. He must be a man before he can become a Spirit. A dead child is a failure of nature—he must live again; and the same Psuche reënters the physical plane through another birth. Such cases, together with those of congenital idiots, are, as stated in Isis Unveiled, the only instances of human reincarnation.* [Footnote: * Note that "reincarnation" is here used as a term applying only to the Psuche. This does not reincarnate it has always been taught, except in the instances given.-Eds ] If every child-duality were to be immortal, why deny a like individual immortality to the duality of the animal? Those who believe in the trinity of man know the babe to be but a duality—body and soul—and the individuality which resides only in the psychical is, as we have seen proved by the Philosophers, perishable. The completed trinity only survives. Trinity, I say, for at death the astral form becomes the outward body, and inside a still finer one evolves, which takes the place of the Psyche on earth, and the whole is more or less overshadowed by the Nous. Space prevented Col. Olcott from developing the doctrine more fully, or he would have added that not even all of the Elementaries (human) are annihilated. There is still a chance for some. By a supreme struggle these may retain their third and higher principle, and so, though slowly and painfully, yet ascend sphere after sphere, casting off at each transition the previous heavier garment, and clothing themselves in more radiant spiritual envelopes, until, rid of every finite particle, the trinity merges into the final Nirvâna, and becomes a unity—a God.
A volume would scarce suffice to enumerate all the varieties of Elementaries and Elementals; the former being so called by some Kabalists (Henry Kunrath, for instance) to indicate their entanglement in the terrestrial elements which hold them captive, and the latter designated by that name to avoid confusion, and equally applying to those which go to form the astral body of the infant and to the stationary Nature Spirits proper. Éliphas Lévi, however, indifferently calls them all "Elementary" and "souls." I repeat again, it is but the wholly psychical disembodied astral man which ultimately disappears as an individual entity. As to the component parts of his Psyche, they are as indestructible as the atoms of any other body composed of matter.
The man must indeed be a true animal who has not, after death, a spark of the divine Ruach or Nous left in him to allow him a chance of self-salvation. Yet there are such lamentable exceptions, not alone among the depraved, but also among those who, during life, by stifling every idea of an after existence, have killed in themselves the last desire to achieve immortality. It is the will of man, his all-potent will, that weaves his destiny, and if a man is determined in the notion that death means annihilation, he will find it so. It is among our commonest experiences that the determination of physical life or death depends upon the will. Some people snatch themselves by force of determination from the very jaws of death, while others succumb to insignificant maladies. What man does with his body he can do with his disembodied Psuche.
Nothing in this militates against the images of Mr. Croucher's children being seen in the Astral Light by the medium, either as actually left by the children themselves, or as imagined by the father to look when grown. The impression in the latter case would be but a phasma, while in the former it is a phantasma, or the apparition of the indestructible impress of what once really was.
In days of old the "mediators" of humanity were men like Christna, Gautama Buddha, Jesus, Paul, Apollonius of Tyana, Plotinus, Porphyry, and the like of them. They were Adepts, Philosophers—men who, by struggling their whole lives in purity, study, and self-sacrifice, through trials, privations and self-discipline, attained divine illumination and seemingly superhuman powers. They could not only produce all the phenomena seen in our times, but regarded it as a sacred duty to cast out "evil spirits," or demons, from the unfortunates who were obsessed—in other words, to rid the medium of their days of the "Elementaries."
But in our time of improved psychology every hysterical sensitive looms into a seer, and behold! there are mediums by the thousand! Without any previous study, self-denial, or the least limitation of their physical nature, they assume, in the capacity of mouthpieces of unidentified and unidentifiable intelligences, to outrival Socrates in wisdom, Paul in eloquence, and Tertullian himself in fiery and authoritative dogmatism. The Theosophists are the last to assume infallibility for themselves, or recognize it in others; as they judge others, so they are willing to be judged.
In the name, then, of logic and common sense, before bandying epithets, let us submit our difference to the arbitrament of reason. Let us compare all things, and, putting aside emotionalism and prejudice as unworthy of the logician and the experimentalist, hold fast only to that which passes the ordeal of ultimate analysis.
H. P. BLAVATSKY.
London Spiritualist, New York, Jan. 14th, 1878.
A WARNING TO MEDIUMS
From A Modern Panarian
Articles by HPB
DEAR SIR,—I take the earliest opportunity to warn mediums generally—but particularly American mediums—that a plot against the cause has been hatched in St. Petersburg. The particulars have just been received by me from one of my foreign correspondents, and may be relied upon as authentic.
It is now commonly known that Prof. Wagner, the geologist, has boldly come out as a champion for mediumistic phenomena. Since he witnessed the wonderful manifestations of Bredif, the French medium, he has issued several pamphlets, reviewed at great length in Col. Olcott's People from the Other World, and excited and defied the anger of all the scientific pyschophobists of the Imperial University. Fancy a herd of mad bulls rushing at the red flag of a picador, and you will have some idea of the effect of Wagner's Olcott-pamphlet upon his colleagues.
Chief among them is the chairman of the scientific Commission which has just exploded with a report of what they did not see at séances never held! Goaded to fury by the defence of Spiritualism, which they had intended to quietly butcher, this individual suddenly took the determination to come to America, and is now probably on his way. Like a Samson of science, he expects to tie our foxes of mediums together by the tails, set fire to them, and turn them into the corn of those Philistines, Wagner and Butlerow.
Let me give mediums a bit of friendly caution. If this Russian Professor should turn up at a séance, keep a sharp eye upon him, and let everyone do the same; give him no private séances at which there is not present at least one truthful and impartial Spiritualist. Some scientists are not to be trusted. My correspondent writes that the Professor—
Goes to America to create a great scandal, burst up Spiritualism, and turn the laugh on P. Wagner, Aksakoff and Butlerow.
The plot is very ingeniously contrived: he is coming here under the pretest of the Centennial, and will attract as little attention as possible among the mediums.
But, Mr. Editor, what if he should meet the fate of Hare and become a Spiritualist! What wailing would there not be in the Society of Physical Sciences! I shudder at the mortification which would await my poor countrymen.
But another distinguished Russian scientist is also coming, for whom I bespeak a very different reception. Prof. Kittara, the greatest technologist of Russia and a member of the Emperor's Privy Council, is really sent by the government to the Centennial. He is deeply interested in Spiritualism, very anxious to investigate it, and will bring the proper credentials from Mr. Aksakoff. The latter gentleman writes me that every civility and attention should be shown Prof. Kittara, as his report, if favourable, will have a tremendous influence upon public opinion.
The unfairness of the University Commission has, it seems, produced a reäction. I translate the following from a paper which Mr. Aksakoff has sent me, the St. Petersburg Berjeveya Viedomostji (Exchange Reports):
We hear that the Commission for the investigation of mediumism, which was formed by the Society of Physical Sciences attached to the University, is preparing to issue a report of its labours [? !]. It will appear as an appendix to the monthly periodical of the Chemical and Physical Societies. Meanwhile another Commission is being formed, but this time its members will not be supplied from the Physical Science Society, but from the Medical Society. Nevertheless, several members of the former will be invited to join, as well as the friends of mediumism, and others who would be able to offer important suggestions pro or con. We hear that the formation of this new Commission is warmly advocated, its necessity having been shown in the breach of faith by the Physical Science Society, its failure to hold the promised forty séances, its premature adoption of unfair conclusions, and the strong prejudices of the members.
Let us hope that this new organization may prove more honourable than its predecessor (peace to its ashes!).
H. P. BLAVATSKY