Methods Of Development





When a man becomes convinced of the reality of the valuable power of

clairvoyance, his first question usually is, "How can I develop in my

own case this faculty which is said to be latent in everyone?"



Now the fact is that there are many methods by which it may be

developed, but only one which can be at all safely recommended for

general use--that of which we shall speak last of all. Among the less

advanced nations of the world the clairvoyant state has been produced

in various objectionable ways; among some of the non-Aryan tribes of

India, by the use of intoxicating drugs or the inhaling of stupefying

fumes; among the dervishes, by whirling in a mad dance of religious

fervour until vertigo and insensibility supervene; among the followers

of the abominable practices of the Voodoo cult, by frightful

sacrifices and loathsome rites of black magic. Methods such as these

are happily not in vogue in our own race, yet even among us large

numbers of dabblers in this ancient art adopt some plan of

self-hypnotization, such as the gazing at a bright spot or the

repetition of some formula until a condition of semi-stupefaction is

produced; while yet another school among them would endeavour to

arrive at similar results by the use of some of the Indian systems of

regulation of the breath.



All these methods are unequivocally to be condemned as quite unsafe

for the practice of the ordinary man who has no idea of what he is

doing--who is simply making vague experiments in an unknown world.

Even the method of obtaining clairvoyance by allowing oneself to be

mesmerized by another person is one from which I should myself shrink

with the most decided distaste; and assuredly it should never be

attempted except under conditions of absolute trust and affection

between the magnetizer and the magnetized, and a perfection of purity

in heart and soul, in mind and intention, such as is rarely to be seen

among any but the greatest of saints.



Experiments in connection with the mesmeric trance are of the deepest

interest, as offering (among other things) a possibility of proof of

the fact of clairvoyance to the sceptic, yet except under such

conditions as I have just mentioned--conditions, I quite admit, almost

impossible to realize--I should never counsel anyone to submit himself

as a subject for them.



Curative mesmerism (in which, without putting the patient into the

trance state at all, an effort is made to relieve his pain, to remove

his disease, or to pour vitality into him by magnetic passes) stands

on an entirely different footing; and if the mesmerizer, even though

quite untrained, is himself in good health and animated by pure

intentions, no harm is likely to be done to the subject. In so extreme

a case as that of a surgical operation, a man might reasonably submit

himself even to the mesmeric trance, but it is certainly not a

condition with which one ought lightly to experiment. Indeed, I should

most strongly advise any one who did me the honour to ask for my

opinion on the subject, not to attempt any kind of experimental

investigation into what are still to him the abnormal forces of

nature, until he has first of all read carefully everything that has

been written on the subject, or--which is by far the best of

all--until he is under the guidance of a qualified teacher.



But where, it will be said, is the qualified teacher to be found? Not,

most assuredly, among any who advertise themselves as teachers, who

offer to impart for so many guineas or dollars the sacred mysteries of

the ages, or hold "developing circles" to which casual applicants are

admitted at so much per head.



Much has been said in this treatise of the necessity for careful

training--of the immense advantages of the trained over the untrained

clairvoyant; but that again brings us back to the same question--where

is this definite training to be had?



The answer is, that the training may be had precisely where it has

always been to be found since the world's history began--at the hands

of the Great White Brotherhood of Adepts, which stands now, as it has

always stood, at the back of human evolution, guiding and helping it

under the sway of the great cosmic laws which represent to us the Will

of the Eternal.



But how, it may be asked, is access to be gained to them? How is the

aspirant thirsting for knowledge to signify to them his wish for

instruction?



Once more, by the time-honoured methods only. There is no new patent

whereby a man can qualify himself without trouble to become a pupil in

that School--no royal road to the learning which has to be acquired in

it. At the present day, just as in the mists of antiquity, the man who

wishes to attract their notice must enter upon the slow and toilsome

path of self-development--must learn first of all to take himself in

hand and make himself all that he ought to be. The steps of that path

are no secret; I have given them in full detail in Invisible

Helpers, so I need not repeat them here. But it is no easy road to

follow, and yet sooner or later all must follow it, for the great law

of evolution sweeps mankind slowly but resistlessly towards its goal.



From those who are pressing into this path the great Masters select

their pupils, and it is only by qualifying himself to be taught that a

man can put himself in the way of getting the teaching. Without that

qualification, membership in any Lodge or Society, whether secret or

otherwise, will not advance his object in the slightest degree. It is

true, as we all know, that it was at the instance of some of these

Masters that our Theosophical Society was founded, and that from its

ranks some have been chosen to pass into closer relations with them.

But that choice depends upon the earnestness of the candidate, not

upon his mere membership of the Society or of any body within it.



That, then, is the only absolutely safe way of developing

clairvoyance--to enter with all one's energy upon the path of moral

and mental evolution, at one stage of which this and other of the

higher faculties will spontaneously begin to show themselves. Yet

there is one practice which is advised by all the religions

alike--which if adopted carefully and reverently can do no harm to any

human being, yet from which a very pure type of clairvoyance has

sometimes been developed; and that is the practice of meditation.



Let a man choose a certain time every day--a time when he can rely

upon being quiet and undisturbed, though preferably in the daytime

rather than at night--and set himself at that time to keep his mind

for a few minutes entirely free from all earthly thoughts of any kind

whatever and, when that is achieved, to direct the whole force of his

being towards the highest spiritual ideal that he happens to know. He

will find that to gain such perfect control of thought is enormously

more difficult than he supposes, but when he attains it it cannot but

be in every way most beneficial to him, and as he grows more and more

able to elevate and concentrate his thought, he may gradually find

that new worlds are opening before his sight.



As a preliminary training towards the satisfactory achievement of such

meditation, he will find it desirable to make a practice of

concentration in the affairs of daily life--even in the smallest of

them. If he writes a letter, let him think of nothing else but that

letter until it is finished if he reads a book, let him see to it that

his thought is never allowed to wander from his author's meaning. He

must learn to hold his mind in check, and to be master of that also,

as well as of his lower passions he must patiently labour to acquire

absolute control of his thoughts, so that he will always know exactly

what he is thinking about, and why--so that he can use his mind, and

turn it or hold it still, as a practised swordsman turns his weapon

where he will.



Yet after all, if those who so earnestly desire clairvoyance could

possess it temporarily for a day or even an hour, it is far from

certain that they would choose to retain the gift. True, it opens

before them new worlds of study, new powers of usefulness, and for

this latter reason most of us feel it worth while; but it should be

remembered that for one whose duty still calls him to live in the

world it is by no means an unmixed blessing. Upon one in whom that

vision is opened the sorrow and the misery, the evil and the greed of

the world press as an ever-present burden, until in the earlier days

of his knowledge he often feels inclined to echo the passionate

adjuration contained in those rolling lines of Schiller's:



Dien Orakel zu verkuenden, warum warfest du mich hin

In die Stadt der ewig Blinden, mit dem aufgeschloss'nen Sinn?

Frommt's, den Schleier aufzuheben, wo das nahe Schreckniss droht?

Nur der Irrthum ist das Leben; dieses Wissen ist der Tod.

Nimm, O nimm die traur'ge Klarheit mir vom Aug' den blut'gen Schein!

Schrecklich ist es deiner Wahrheit sterbliches Gefaess zu seyn!



which may perhaps be translated "Why hast thou cast me thus into the

town of the ever-blind, to proclaim thine oracle by the opened sense?

What profits it to lift the veil where the near darkness threatens?

Only ignorance is life; this knowledge is death. Take back this sad

clear-sightedness; take from mine eyes this cruel light! It is

horrible to be the mortal channel of thy truth." And again later he

cries, "Give me back my blindness, the happy darkness of my senses;

take back thy dreadful gift!"



But this of course is a feeling which passes, for the higher sight

soon shows the pupil something beyond the sorrow--soon bears in upon

his soul the overwhelming certainty that, whatever appearances down

here may seem to indicate, all things are without shadow of doubt

working together for the eventual good of all. He reflects that the

sin and the suffering are there, whether he is able to perceive them

or not, and that when he can see them he is after all better able to

give efficient help than he would be if he were working in the dark;

and so by degrees he learns to bear his share of the heavy karma of

the world.



Some misguided mortals there are who, having the good fortune to

possess some slight touch of this higher power, are nevertheless so

absolutely destitute of all right feeling in connection with it as to

use it for the most sordid ends--actually even to advertise themselves

as "test and business clairvoyants!" Needless to say, such use of the

faculty is a mere prostitution and degradation of it, showing that its

unfortunate possessor has somehow got hold of it before the moral side

of his nature has been sufficiently developed to stand the strain

which it imposes. A perception of the amount of evil karma that may be

generated by such action in a very short time changes one's disgust

into pity for the unhappy perpetrator of that sacrilegious folly.



It is sometimes objected that the possession of clairvoyance destroys

all privacy, and confers a limit-less ability to explore the secrets

of others. No doubt it does confer such an ability, but nevertheless

the suggestion is an amusing one to anyone who knows anything

practically about the matter. Such an objection may possibly be

well-founded as regards the very limited powers of the "test and

business clairvoyant," but the man who brings it forward against those

who have had the faculty opened for them in the course of their

instruction, and consequently possess it fully, is forgetting three

fundamental facts: first, that it is quite inconceivable that anyone,

having before him the splendid fields for investigation which true

clairvoyance opens up, could ever have the slightest wish to pry into

the trumpery little secrets of any individual man; secondly, that even

if by some impossible chance our clairvoyant had such indecent

curiosity about matters of petty gossip, there is, after all, such a

thing as the honour of a gentleman, which, on that plane as on this,

would of course prevent him from contemplating for an instant the idea

of gratifying it; and thirdly, in case, by any unheard-of possibility,

one might encounter some variety of low-class pitri with whom the

above considerations would have no weight, full instructions are

always given to every pupil, as soon as he develops any sign of

faculty, as to the limitations which are placed upon its use.



Put briefly, these restrictions are that there shall be no prying, no

selfish use of the power, and no displaying of phenomena. That is to

say, that the same considerations which would govern the actions of a

man of right feeling upon the physical plane are expected to apply

upon the astral and mental planes also; that the pupil is never under

any circumstances to use the power which his additional knowledge

gives to him in order to promote his own worldly advantage, or indeed

in connection with gain in any way; and that he is never to give what

is called in spiritualistic circles "a test"--that is, to do anything

which will incontestably prove to sceptics on the physical plane that

he possesses what to them would appear to be an abnormal power.



With regard to this latter proviso people often say, "But why should

he not? it would be so easy to confute and convince your sceptic, and

it would do him good!" Such critics lose sight of the fact that, in

the first place, none of those who know anything want to confute or

convince sceptics, or trouble themselves in the slightest degree about

the sceptic's attitude one way or the other; and in the second, they

fail to understand how much better it is for that sceptic that he

should gradually grow into an intellectual appreciation of the facts

of nature, instead of being suddenly introduced to them by a

knock-down blow, as it were. But the subject was fully considered

many years ago in Mr. Sinnet's Occult World, and it is needless to

repeat again the arguments there adduced.



It is very hard for some of our friends to realize that the silly

gossip and idle curiosity which so entirely fill the lives of the

brainless majority on earth can have no place in the more real life of

the disciple; and so they sometimes enquire whether, even without any

special wish to see, a clairvoyant might not casually observe some

secret which another person was trying to keep, in the same way as

one's glance might casually fall upon a sentence in someone else's

letter which happened to be lying open upon the table. Of course he

might, but what if he did? The man of honour would at once avert his

eyes, in one case as in the other, and it would be as though he had

not seen. If objectors could but grasp the idea that no pupil cares

about other people's business, except when it comes within his

province to try to help them, and that he has always a world of work

of his own to attend to, they would not be so hopelessly far from

understanding the facts of the wider life of the trained clairvoyant.



Even from the little that I have said with regard to the restrictions

laid upon the pupil, it will be obvious that in very many cases he

will know much more than he is at liberty to say. That is of course

true in a far wider sense of the great Masters of Wisdom themselves,

and that is why those who have the privilege of occasionally entering

their presence pay so much respect to their lightest word even on

subjects quite apart from the direct teaching. For the opinion of a

Master, or even of one of his higher pupils, upon any subject is that

of a man whose opportunity of judging accurately is out of all

proportion to ours.



His position and his extended faculties are in reality the heritage of

all mankind, and, far though we may now be from those grand powers,

they will none the less certainly be ours one day. Yet how different a

place will this old world be when humanity as a whole possesses the

higher clairvoyance! Think what the difference will be to history when

all can read the records; to science, when all the processes about

which now men theorize can be watched through all their course; to

medicine, when doctor and patient alike can see clearly and exactly

all that is being done; to philosophy, when there is no longer any

possibility of discussion as to its basis, because all alike can see a

wider aspect of the truth; to labour, when all work will be joy,

because every man will be put only to that which he can do best; to

education, when the minds and hearts of the children are open to the

teacher who is trying to form their character; to religion, when there

is no longer any possibility of dispute as to its broad dogmas, since

the truth about the states after death, and the Great Law that

governs the world, will be patent to all eyes.



Above all, how far easier it will be then for the evolved men to help

one another under those so much freer conditions! The possibilities

that open before the mind are as glorious vistas stretching in all

directions, so that our seventh round should indeed be a veritable

golden age. Well for us that these grand faculties will not be

possessed by all humanity until it has evolved to a far higher level

in morality as well as in wisdom, else should we but repeat once more

under still worse conditions the terrible downfall of the great

Atlantean civilization, whose members failed to realize that increased

power meant increased responsibility. Yet we ourselves were most of us

among those very men let us hope that we have learnt wisdom by that

failure, and that when the possibilities of the wider life open before

us once more, this time we shall bear the trial better.





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