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Chapter 5
How To Be Spiritual
BEFORE any attempt is made to give instructions on how to be spiritual we must first
have a clear cut idea of what is meant by that term. Before we can intelligently
discuss how to get something, we must first know what it is that we are trying to get.
Yet the idea of spirituality commonly held is anything but clear cut and well defined.
To be sure, the word "spiritual" is to be heard on every lip in all those circles which
converse so fluently about the aspirations of the human heart. Yet I can recall no
word that conveys so many divergent meanings, or about which, in the minds of
those who speak of it most frequently, there is such utter confusion. It seems to be
taken for granted, by those who write and talk so assuredly about it, that there is
nothing of higher import to man; yet, when pinned down to any clear statement,
opinions differ as widely as the poles, or at least as widely as West is from East; for
the Oriental conception of spirituality varies from the Occidental conception no less
than the dreamy, passive temperament of the peoples of such languid climes is
opposed by the aggressive, red-blooded enterprise of a temperamentally vigorous
and virile race.
There is prevalent today an Oriental notion of spirituality that arises from the view
that life is an intolerable condition to be endured only because it is forced upon the
individual and cannot be avoided, and that whatever effort must be expended may
best be devoted to those acts which will enable the individual to escape from the
wheel of karma and rebirth into the negation of nirvana. But entwined with these
purely Oriental notions are numerous inheritances from Christianity, long since
outgrown in their actual practice, but which theoretically are expounded as spiritual
virtues.
No one is so impractical, for instance, as to insist that a gangster shall take still other
of his belongings when the gangster, either by force of arms or by law, takes part of
them; although we are still taught from the pulpit it is a virtue to give a man one's
cloak if by law he takes away one's coat. Nor when smitten do we turn the other
cheek; for if we did we should suffer the fate of those adjoining nations that offered
no resistance to Hitler, or the same fatality that overtook the one who gave this
precept. Most of us recognize that the doctrine of meekness leads to slavery, and that
instead of mourning being a blessing, it is psychologically a crime. Yet these and a
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dozen other notions, including the idea that Deity is pained to see man enjoy himself,
and that the saintly life is lived only by those who make themselves unusually
miserable, are vaguely blended with Oriental views on the desirability of escaping
life, and together comprise what passes among many for spirituality.
The Oriental views I have discussed in some detail in Course II, Chapters 7-8, and
Course XII-1, Chapter 5; and in that chapter I have analyzed some of the obvious absurdities
of Christianity. Here, therefore, I shall not consume space by discussing such ideas. Nor
are they here mentioned in a carping, fault-finding spirit; but only because no clear
conception of real spirituality can be presented without at least thus briefly sweeping
away the rubbish and debris with which the centuries have covered it; and because,
further, it is only fair to make plain at the start of this discourse that there is a
distinctly Western conception of spirituality which is quite dissimilar to either that of
the Orient or that of orthodox Christianity.
This dissimilarity is most pronounced. For instance, the Western cosmic alchemist
places very little emphasis on what people are not to do, and instead of the many
prohibitions of the Orient, and the thou shalt nots of Christianity, he constantly
insists that something should be done, and points out specifically what that
something is.
Instead of a vocabulary of Sanskrit words that to most Western students may mean
nothing or anything; instead of the Latin and psychological pageantry employed by
the Roman Catholics to impress their devotees with the holiness of their leaders; and
instead of the ambiguous and contradictory passages that Protestants make mean
anything they wish, and thus are able to present a Scriptural quotation to prove
whatever they may desire; the Western School uses as plain language as possible,
carefully defines such technical terms as must be employed, and if any feeling of
mystery lingers in the student's mind, deems that its work has been ineffectually
presented.
Then again, a certain mood of fatality and inevitability is engendered by the Eastern
doctrines; and while predestination is not so vigorously debated in the Church as it
once was, the conception still prevails in Christian circles that instead of being
dependent upon initiative, intelligence and effort, man is largely dependent upon the
grace and mercy of a Divine Being who can be wheedled into granting special and
quite unmerited favors.
But the cosmic alchemist perceives that all nature is under law, and not subject to the
whims and caprices of either Jehovah or His Son. That there are intelligences higher
than man he has good reason to believe. Nor does he scoff at prayers, but considers
that they also operate under laws; and these laws he strives to understand. He
believes, furthermore, that there is an all-pervading Deific Intelligence Whom he
calls God. But above all, he emphasizes the importance, not of permitting things to
happen because apparently they are foreordained, but of applying initiative and
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intelligence towards making those things happen which he deems to be in the
direction of individual betterment and human and universal progress. He considers
man not merely as an inert and passive creature, but as a dynamic force capable of
uniting himself to Deity for the purpose of accomplishing a useful and progressive
work in the constantly expanding domain of universal development.
Spiritual Values
--Now either spirituality is real, and has come meaning to life, or it is a vague
nothingness. If it has a value to life, it must contribute either to quantity or to quality;
that is, to length of life or to its richness, because aside from these two there can be no
value.
Orientals imply, with their doctrine of repeated human births on earth, that the region
where the human soul can effectively express itself is more restricted and narrow,
while Western cosmic alchemists find innumerable realms in space in which, by
means of finer vehicles, mankind can work and develop and continue a vividly
self-conscious and progressive existence. But if life has a value, both its duration and
what is thought, felt and done in its duration are significant.
We never hear the term spirituality applied to mere duration of life. At least the
duration of physical life cannot be used as a measure of spirituality. For although a
Sequoia tree may gain experiences that contribute quality during its existence, it is
probable that its spirituality is much less than that of many men who live less than
one-fortieth of the time it thrives on earth. Yet duration of life, because it affords the
opportunity to develop the soul, and affords man the opportunity to gain spiritual
treasures, has a very real value.
Mere duration of life is not spirituality, as spirituality depends upon how the duration
is utilized. The opportunity is not the treasure; but has a value in that it makes it
possible to obtain the treasure Yet aside from this duration, which has spiritual value
only as an opportunity, there is left of life only one thing of value, and that is the
quality of life. Consequently, true spirituality must in some manner relate to the
quality of the thoughts, feelings and actions of life.
Experiences add states of consciousness to the soul, and these through increasing the
knowledge give a certain quality to the life. Yet many thoughts, feelings and actions
while affecting the quality of the life do not increase its spirituality. Spirituality is not
intelligence, it is not merely activity, nor is it merely knowledge, nor all of these
three. It is not the quality of life resulting from its complexity, but the quality of life
that, irrespective of its complexity, tends to lift it to a higher level.
Even as physical objects have two other dimensions than that of length, so has life
two distinct and different measurements of quality. Of course, considered from the
standpoint of the movements of a physical, and therefore three-dimensional, entity,
time is the fourth dimension. But when we measure states of consciousness we must
consider life from another view. And as we are familiar with three dimensions, all at
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right angles to each other, for the sake of simplicity of illustration let us also consider
life as having three dimensions, all at right angles to each other and thus to be
measured much as we measure the volume of some physical object.
From this analogical viewpoint we may as well consider time as most people do, as
the measure of the length of life. As the breadth of anything is measured at right
angles to its length, from this view point it would seem that the breadth of life would
be measured by the number, variety and intensity of its experiences. Thus in one of its
dimensions a life is rich in proportion to the amount of thought, feeling and action
packed into it.
Yet however active a man may be, however varied his experiences, however much he
has felt, and however much knowledge he has acquired, from these and the length of
his life its value cannot be completely measured. To appraise its worth, in addition to
these two measurements at right angles to each other there is needed another
measurement at right angles to both of these, even as to measure physical volume the
thickness of that which is to be measured must be ascertained as well as the length
and breadth. This dimension of thickness, when applied to man's life, relates to the
refinement, or vibratory level, of the thoughts, feelings and actions. It is the distance
these are above those of the brutes. It is the lowness or the height of this vibratory
level that affords, regardless of the length of the life or its richness in breadth, the true
measure of its spirituality.
In the first chapter on Course XX, The Next Life, it is explained that there are
innumerable levels of the inner-plane world, on each of which life exists. Each level
has its own basic vibratory rate. And it is there pointed out that everything has a
dominant vibratory rate, and that on the inner plane the principle of resonance
supersedes the law of gravitation. Not only after physical dissolution, but in so far as
the astral form and soul are concerned while they are still in the flesh, people
gravitate to the inner-plane level the basic vibratory rate of which most nearly is that
of their own dominant vibratory rate. This attraction is as inevitable, and as powerful,
as is the force of gravitation to hold their physical bodies to the earth.
Thus from the inner-plane effect we have a quite clear criterion of that which tends in
the direction of spirituality. Any thought or experience which tends to raise the
individual's dominant vibratory rate tends to increase his spirituality, and any
thought or experience which tends to lower his dominant vibratory rate decreases his
spirituality. This dominant vibratory rate is little influenced by knowledge as such.
But it is powerfully influenced by the emotions.
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Knowledge when used for selfish ends, to enslave others, and to find means to enable
the individual to be more brutal, detracts from spirituality. The lowest astral levels
are inhabited by those who while on earth had keen intellects and had acquired much
knowledge, but who so decreased their dominant vibratory rate by using that
knowledge to cause others misery that they have gravitated to the very slums of the
inner world. Either length or life or breadth of life is valuable in that it affords
opportunity to increase the spirituality, but unless thus utilized it has no power to add
to the life in this direction.
In general, because commonly they are accompanied by emotions that possess a very
high vibration and constructive potency on the inner plane, we may broadly classify
all those thoughts, feelings and actions that spring from a desire to help others, rather
than to gain some profit for themselves, as spiritual. Such constructive efforts and the
emotional states accompanying them generate some of the highest vibratory rates
known to human life, and consequently are very potent sources of true spirituality.
People add most to their spirituality who live by the universal moral code -- which is
explained in detail in Course XIX, Chapter 6 -- stated thus: A SOUL IS COMPLETELY
MORAL WHEN IT IS CONTRIBUTING ITS UTMOST TO COSMIC
WELFARE. This implies that all, instead of just a few, of the thoughts, feelings and
actions are motivated by the desire to benefit others, and that to be able to render
greater service the individual, among other things, strives to gain more knowledge
and to advance spiritually. In thus seeking to become a more valuable workman in
the universal scheme, when he develops far enough he will become a spiritual
alchemist. He will then seek out such experiences as he needs, and taking the proper
attitude towards each and every event of his life, as explained in Spiritual Alchemy
(Course 3), he will insure its final spiritual transmutation.
But in addition to these two methods: (1) viewing events from the standpoint of
spiritual alchemy, and (2) cultivating thoughts, feelings and actions that arise from
the desire to benefit others, there is a third effective way to raise the dominant
vibratory rate and thus to increase the spirituality. (3) As distinct from grosser
experiences, a heightened intellectual and emotional appreciation may be cultivated
that raises the vibratory rates and adds to the height of human experience.
Intellectual processes, however wide their scope, while adding to the richness of
breadth to the life, in themselves cannot contribute to spirituality. If the aim
associated with these mental processes has been to gain a selfish advantage over a
fellowman, the coarse vibratory rate of the ulterior motive lowers the spirituality. If a
man remains brutish in his desire, no amount of intellectual attainment will confer
upon him spirituality. His widened mental functions will merely enable the brute to
be more successful in his brutishness.
But if in scanning the universe and solving many of the problems of its laws he has a
feeling of uplift, an exaltation at the majesty of nature and an admiration for its laws,
he has added to his spiritual stature. Or if associated with mental attainment or the
exercise of any ability is the desire to render service to humanity, the spirituality is
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increased. When activity of the intellect brings aspiration, or when finer emotions
not centered in self arise from it, there is distinct spiritual gain. Real education,
therefore, is one avenue to true spirituality.
Literature, music, art, the drama, the movies, nature and social intercourse all may,
under certain conditions, engender gross and selfish impulses that detract from
spirituality. But each one of these, as well as education, prayer and devotional
exercises, through stimulating refined emotions, noble impulses and high aspirations
may contribute to the vibratory height of individual existence, and therefore to
spirituality. The remaining chapters of this course, consequently, will be devoted to
explaining how these elements of culture may be approached and used as stepping
stones to spiritual attainment.
Erroneous Notions of Spirituality
I trust, now that the cosmic alchemist's conception of spirituality has been made
plain, that we can turn with some confidence to an examination of current, and I
believe, erroneous notions of spirituality. And in this, in spite of it being poor taste to
mention personal matters, as concrete examples are better than abstract dissertations
to make a viewpoint clear, I shall discuss the attitude The Church of Light has taken
when confronted with real situations.
Many years ago we issued a folder to interest people in occult and spiritual matters. It
was entitled, "What Do You Want?" A certain occult magazine solicited our
advertisement and we sent it copy of an advertisement of this folder appearing in
various other magazines. This advertisement asserted that occultism will assist you
to get what you want. Thus, astrology, to our certain knowledge, has helped
innumerable people to get what they wanted. Psychology and mental alchemy also
are known to have helped many get what they wanted. But the editor of this magazine
held that occultism should not be used to get what one wants, and refused to carry the
advertisement on this grounds. He, of course, was well within his right, and we
admired his determination to keep his magazine up to certain spiritual standards. But
because his viewpoint is a prevalent one, it is worthy of careful examination.
The very first thing real occultism teaches is that man should not want something at
the expense of his fellowman. And the next instruction of true occultism is to show
the individual just what he should want. Then, after indicating what man should not
want, and what he should want -- that he should want only those things which are
beneficial to society as well as to himself -- it points out the most certain road to the
realization of these worthy wants.
I am unable to discern that it is more wicked, or more unspiritual, to injure another, or
to deprive him of what justly is his, by occult processes than it is to injure him or take
property from him with a gun, or through a superior knowledge of values to deprive
him to the same extent in some shrewd business deal that is well within the law.
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But because I have had the advantage, over more than forty years, to observe closely
those who take up occult study and practice, I unhesitatingly say that I consider it far
more dangerous to use occult means to deprive another unjustly or to injure him, than
it is to use a gun or questionable business methods. Even in reading birth charts one
tends to tune in on unseen forces, and in using magic or psychology to influence
another one contacts invisible entities. And so far as such forces are used a link is
established with them. Under the law of resonance, that like attracts like, the grade
and quality of invisible intelligences are attracted that correspond to the motives,
desires and mental state held. One contacts the entities of the inner-plane basic
vibratory level which corresponds to the dominant vibratory rate at the time. If,
therefore, one is intent on taking advantage of another, intelligences are attracted that
have no scruples about taking such advantage. But these same intelligences, as
explained in detail in Course XVIII, Chapter 3, because essentially unscrupulous, do not
hesitate to take advantage of the one using them. Usually sooner, but surely later,
according to my observations of real life, those who use occultism to the
disadvantage of their fellowman are themselves victims either of the projected forces
which have completed their orbits, or meet disaster through the misguidance of
invisible intelligences.
Unhesitatingly, therefore, I can offer this advice to anyone who contemplates
dishonesty: To follow the common criminal channels is far less hazardous, and is far
more likely to escape severe penalty, than to use occult means as a means to such
ends.
Yet to the individual who has no dishonest intention, but who accepts the cardinal
doctrine of occultism that we should develop our highest efficiency the better to
serve our fellowman, occultism offers both a safe and a most effective means. Nor,
Oriental doctrines to the contrary, is there anything unspiritual in wanting or
possessing material conveniences, so long as in their acquisition others are not made
to suffer.
As explained in Chapter 2, material objects, as well as various experiences, give
us the ingredients through which we increase the range of both intelligence and
emotion, and therefore within proper limits they may be used as aids to spiritual
progress. Furthermore, because a knowledge of occult laws is the most effectual way
to attain what we want, and enables us to accomplish for ourselves and for society
what otherwise we could not, it becomes a duty to the cosmic alchemist to become
familiar with these laws, and to make use of them for his own unfoldment, and for the
alleviation of the suffering by which he is surrounded.
It is true that those who try to use elementals usually end by becoming their slaves,
and that those who use modern gangsters for their ends also usually end by becoming
victims of the underworld. But anyone with a real knowledge of occultism will not
employ ceremonial magic and elementals, no more than an intelligent citizen will
employ machine guns and gangsters to get what he wants. There is a wrong way to try
to accomplish anything; but because this is true does not imply that all methods are
wrong.
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If we conclude that because a force is invisible it is wrong to use it, we must discard
the electric motor and radar, and take the telephone, radio and electric lights from our
homes. By astrology, which is one of the three great divisions of occultism, it can be
determined what we can and what we cannot accomplish at a given time. To
commence something that is sure to be a failure is a waste to society and is anything
but spiritual. To attempt something that can be accomplished, and that in some
manner will make the lives of others happier and richer, agrees well with our
definition of spirituality. Yet the use of astrological knowledge certainly is the use of
occultism, and in this case it is used to get what is wanted. After all, reason is an
occult process; for we cannot see it work. If it is unspiritual to employ occultism to
get what we want, it is also unspiritual to employ reason for the same end. Is it, then,
spiritual to go blundering through life making mistakes that cause ourselves and
others endless suffering, and unspiritual to use either intelligence or the definite road
map of our possibilities that astrology affords?
Some years ago, here in Los Angeles, I was invited to speak before a gathering of
metaphysicians. I gave them, as best I could in so brief a time, my ideas on astrology.
At the close of my talk a man, who at that time had a very large following as a
metaphysical healer, arose and said that no true metaphysician would pay any
attention to astrology. He held that any knowledge worth while must come from
within, and that the stars, or anything other than man's mind, could have no influence
over him.
This same metaphysician a few months later went to a then developing suburb of Los
Angeles and commenced to promote the settling of a tract of land. Within two years
from the time he publicly proclaimed that all information worth anything must come
from within, he had lost not only all his own money, but the money of many of his
friends, in the inadvised real estate project. This man who was a brilliant speaker, and
who was not dishonest, caused himself and his friends great loss by entering upon
investments at a time when the progressed aspects in his chart made it impossible for
him to have success in this kind of a venture, even with the help of metaphysical
treatments. I have no doubt most of his audience, when he spoke of astrology,
became convinced of its uselessness. Yet any astrological student capable of
working progressed aspects could have told him, before he entered upon it, that his
real estate venture was doomed to certain failure.
Then also, there come to our classroom from time to time, those who proclaim loudly
that they do not read books, that they have no need of getting any information from
others, because, after all, whatever they need to know is revealed to them from
within. Nevertheless, I observe these people, like the metaphysical orator just
mentioned, blundering through life and causing themselves and others hardships
because their egos are so inflated that they will not condescend to check their views
against the experiences of others as recorded in books or as expressed in
conversation. This is their idea of being spiritual.
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But The Church of Light idea is that those who consult and use whatever means they
can find to make their lives successful, who thus make fewer painful blunders, and
who consequently contribute more to human welfare, even if some of their
knowledge does not come from within, are more spiritual.
True occultism shows you where you can be of greatest service in the cosmic
scheme, shows you what you really want, and aids you to get it.
Charging for Occult Services
--Every organization has the right to impose its own restrictions, and as will be
explained shortly, The Church of Light does not permit its ordained teachers or
ordained ministers to charge a price for teaching Church of Light classes or
conducting Church of Light services. But when, as we are so often informed by
students of other organizations, it is held that to make any charge for astrological
work is in violation of spiritual law, we must strenuously object.
Division of labor in human society makes it inconvenient for each individual to
perform all the services he requires. In fact, it is quite impossible. It has become the
custom, therefore, for those who use the time and energy of another in securing some
service that they are unable or unwilling to do, to give that person something in way
of recompense. To become really efficient in performing some service usually
requires arduous training, and to maintain that efficiency the person often must
continue to devote much time and energy to it. Were he to receive no compensation
for his efforts, his efficiency would become lower, as he would be compelled to
spend more of his time in some field that would yield a living. Specialization, which
makes services most valuable, therefore is commonly maintained by rewarding the
specialist with money for services performed.
If one kind of service from which an individual benefits deserves financial reward,
any other kind of service that benefits an individual deserves its pay. If you pay the
farmer for the products he raises, you should also pay the healer for the use of his time
and knowledge. If the community believes it is being benefited by the sermons of an
orthodox preacher, or by the discourses of an occult lecturer, there is nothing
unspiritual about it if the preacher or lecturer demands pay for the time and energy he
uses. Whatever his vocation, he must live to continue it; and if others receive that
which is valuable to them from his efforts it is but fair that he should receive
something from their efforts that is of value to him.
We frequently hear the platitude that truth cannot be purchased for a price. This is
true as far as it goes; for truth implies inner comprehension, which depends, not
merely upon availability of information, but also upon ability and effort. Yet the
other side of this platitude is that many never have the opportunity to grasp truth
except as certain facts are presented to them from the printed page, or from the lips of
some teacher. Even learning to read and write commonly calls for the assistance of
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another. And to present the necessary information that assists another to grasp truth,
the printer's bills must be paid and the teacher must have food, shelter and clothing.
We are forced to conclude, then, that any service rendered which is beneficial to
mankind, if approached with the sincere desire to be helpful rather than solely
actuated by desire for personal gain, is a spiritual service. That is, the growing of
potatoes, the milking of a cow, the healing of the sick, and the teaching of children, as
well as instructing people in the occult sciences, if approached with a desire to assist
universal welfare, engenders those emotions in the performer of these services that
may be considered spiritual. And because he must receive recompense for his labors
if he is to continue performing them, it is not unspiritual to receive money for any
service -- providing groceries, giving psychic readings, doing astrological work, or
piloting an airplane -- by which society is really benefitted.
The converse of this is that to exploit and take an undue recompense for any service
-- whether it be a speculation in Wall Street, the use of psychological forces, or the
shrewd cornering of some natural resource -- is unspiritual, as are all acts motivated
by disregard of the welfare of others, and those that injure rather than benefit society.
Those who teach the occult sciences, who talk of things spiritual, who do astrological
work, who do stellar healing, and those who use their psychic faculties for the benefit
of others, are quite as justified in making a charge for their work as are those who
perform menial labor. If one kind of work is immune from reward, provided it is
valuable, then all kinds of valuable work should be immune from reward.
Take notice, however, that The Church of Light gives no astrological, psychic or
other kinds of readings. Our function is to teach and preach The Religion of the Stars,
not to give readings.
Yet even in the performance of these functions, in the interests of spirituality, we
have the rule that no one is permitted to charge a price for teaching or conducting
services under the auspices of The Church of Light. All such activities are supported
by voluntary contributions. This restriction is imposed not because taking money for
teaching Brotherhood of Light lessons would be unspiritual, but for two other
purposes.
First -- There has been a custom for occult lecturers to go about the country, give a
few free lectures to lead their prospects on with glowing promises, and then charge
from $10.00 to $50.00, and even $100.00, for a course of lessons in some subject.
Many of these lecturers have no real knowledge, and have exploited people and
given nothing of value for the money they received. A few have given instructions
that were well worth the price to those with money enough to take such expensive
courses. But those who most needed the courses, and were best qualified to profit by
them, all too often were prevented from taking the studies because of their high cost;
and others who had the price, but who never made good students, thus largely made
up the lecture class.
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Teachers of The Church of Light may charge what they like in giving private
instructions, or in classes not held under Church of Light auspices. But The Church
of Light feels it is desirable that classes and services on the Religion of the Stars shall
be maintained in every community where anyone, whether he is rich or poor, may
attend and receive instructions. The rule that no charge shall be made for admittance
to Church of Light activities enables those who are low in finances to have access to
our teachings. Second: Spirituality demands that there shall be some exercise of
unselfish effort. Those joining The Church of Light sign a contract that they will
devote some time and energy to the assistance of others without thought of
recompense. Where the thoughts are centered solely upon personal advantages to be
gained, there is no spirituality. We feel, therefore as expounders of this doctrine of a
spiritual life that our teachers should by example, as well as by precept, demonstrate
it in their lives. By devoting time and energy to teaching others, without receiving
pay for it, even though to receive pay would not be unspiritual, they reveal that their
interest in a spiritual life is something more than empty words.
When I assert that the taking of money for the exercise of the psychic faculties is no
more unspiritual than taking money for any other service rendered another, I do not
imply that such exercise of the psychic faculties is no more dangerous to the spiritual
nature than the rendering of commonplace physical services. On the contrary, one
who exercises his psychic faculties for the benefit of others is beset by special perils.
He contacts the forces and denizens of the inner-plane much more intimately than do
others; and to give successful readings or demonstrations he usually becomes quite
sensitive to their influence.
If -- and I am not here talking about irresponsible mediumship, but about the use of
Intellectual ESP -- he resolutely keeps his thoughts and aspirations to a high plane,
he will contact only forces and entities of high quality and sterling integrity. But if he
allows himself to entertain greedy, licentious, or grossly animal thoughts, he attracts
to himself, and cannot fail to be influenced to some extent by, forces and entities of
the inner-plane of a similar quality. In giving a psychic reading Intellectual ESP
alone is seldom employed, and the psychic commonly comes into close rapport with
the person for whom reading. He usually thus temporarily takes on the quality, to
some extent, of the person for whom reading; and if this person has low, unworthy,
dishonest, or unspiritual thoughts of any kind, the psychic not infrequently, for the
time being, acquires these qualities and thus attracts from the invisible, entities and
forces that are low, unscrupulous, or otherwise degrading.
Through thus giving readings to all kinds of people, and contacting invisible energies
corresponding to their desires, the psychic reader may find that the forces thus
attracted have enough influence gradually to undermine his character and cause his
thoughts and feelings to deteriorate in quality. The psychic may be able to protect
himself from such deterioration, but, at least, there is such danger to one who makes
his living giving psychic readings. His calling, therefore, is more perilous than some
others; but so long as he has the desire to render honest service, and is able to do so,
his calling is in no way unspiritual.
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Yet we find occasionally those who heal others through their psychic powers, as well
as those who give readings and otherwise exercise their psychic faculties for a money
reward, entering their profession with high aspirations and dominated by ideals of
real service, only to deteriorate in character and in quality of service rendered by
becoming too greatly engrossed in the financial rewards. I have witnessed more than
one psychic who did excellent work at start become absorbed in acquiring the dollar,
and then swiftly deteriorate in the quality of the service rendered.
Money, at start, was only a secondary consideration. They worked to heal the sick, or
to help people through sound advice. But gradually money grew to be the dominant
desire, and as it did so the higher, inner energies that made for their previous success
could no longer be contacted. Their greed and inconsideration of others made an
effectual barrier that cut them off from the vibratory influences that previously had
been the source of their power. The accepting of money for their services was not
unspiritual; but becoming dominated by the money motive instead of by a sincere
desire to be helpful was decidedly lacking in spirituality.
How People Are Bewildered
--The plain common sense of people would indicate to them just what things are,
and what things are not, spiritual were it not for the bewilderment from which they
suffer due to Oriental superstition and Christian dogmas.
In the application of suggestion, and in hypnosis, the subject must first be placed in a
certain frame of mind before the suggestions will be accepted as facts, irrespective of
their verity, and acted upon. But if this state of mind can be induced, the subject will
believe a stick is a snake, that black is white, and that two plus two equals five, and
will act upon these beliefs without question, because his critical faculties have been
inhibited.
For inducing the hypnotic state it has been common for the subject to gaze steadily at
a bright object while the operator drones some phrase over and over. The dazzling
object concentrates the attention and bewilders the mind to a state in which the
critical faculties are quiescent. When the critical faculties become so confused that
they no longer stand guard, the subject is in a state where the monotonous phrase
dominates him, and in this state he can be led to accept any other suggestion the
operator offers.
Furthermore, it has been found that suggestion can be applied with quite as much
force, and that it will be accepted quite as fully, without inducing the hypnotic sleep,
but by inducing a state in which the critical faculties, nevertheless, are off guard.
Such methods are applied in certain clinics to make the patient insensible to pain
during a surgical operation; and they were once given great popularity by Coue in his
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system of applying auto-suggestion. In fact, Coue found that there is a state which is
not total wakefulness, and is not sleep, but somewhere on the border line between the
two, in which a suggestion takes hold with tremendous force and quickly becomes a
dominant influence over the individual. His cures were all effected through the use of
this principle.
Coue' induced this state of susceptibility to suggestion by having the patient repeat to
himself his well known suggestion, "Every Day, In Every Way, I Am Getting Better
And Better." The monotony of repetition tends to still the critical faculties. Also, if
the suggestion is repeated just before going to sleep there is a point just between the
two states in which the critical faculties are so thoroughly off guard that the
suggestion takes hold with tremendous force.
But any thoroughly bewildered state of mind -- whether induced by looking at a
bright object, by hearing some phrase repeated monotonously again and again, by
being on the boundary between wakefulness and real sleep, by hearing a monotonous
and pointless sermon, by witnessing monotonous and apparently meaningless
rituals, or by receiving a medley of ideas that have no clearly defined meaning --
lulls the critical faculties of the human mind to that peculiar state where the
individual may be made to accept any idea, however fantastic and lacking in
plausibility, and hold to it with all the tenacity of a hypnotized subject.
Give an earnest student a mass of theories that may be twisted so as to signify this,
that or anything just as occasion requires, and which really signify nothing because
they are words which do not represent facts, and in the course of pondering on them
his mind becomes bewildered. Give him a lot of strange words of supposedly
mystical import -- whether Sanskrit or Latin -- but which to him denote nothing
definite and specific, and let him pour over them for a time, and his mind is as
numbed as if he had been looking at some dazzling object. Or give him enough
Scriptural passages so that anything which comes to his mind can be proved by
gospel reference, and his mind becomes confused. In any one of these instances the
mass of dimly perceived thoughts and meanings are so muddled in his mental
makeup that he is, quite unknown to himself, enough bewildered that his critical
faculties have been lulled into quietude.
In this peculiar mental state -- whether induced by looking at a crystal, by looking
into a hypnotist's eyes, by being on the boundary between wakefulness and sleep, by
being given a hash of Scriptural passages, a conglomeration of Sanskrit words, a
medley of ritual or a plethora of mystical theories -- he is susceptible of being
dominated by any strong suggestion that reaches him. He is as open to accepting
ridiculous and unplausible ideas as if he first had been formally put to sleep by a stage
hypnotist.
Only through a recognition of this peculiar quality of the human mind can we
satisfactorily account for the inconsistent mystical ideas held by many, for the
irrational religious conceptions that dominate some, for the gullibility of the public
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by political methods, and for the silly notions some hold as to what is, and what is not,
spiritual.
But of more importance to us, as cosmic alchemists, than the recognition of the
method by which others are brought to believe in inconsistencies, is the discernment
that in forming our own conclusions in regard to what is spiritual, and what is
beneficial to racial welfare, we must constantly exercise our critical faculties, and be
on the alert to guard against accepting unwarranted suggestions. Nor are all these
suggestions given orally, or through the printed word. They also are radiated from the
minds of powerful thinkers, and wherever they find a bewildered mind, or one that
through mediumship or other causes has entered a passive state, they enter and tend
to dominate it. The person thinks he has plenty of proofs for his beliefs, just as does a
hypnotic subject; but in fact he is dominated by a powerful suggestion.
The Proof of Spirituality
--Not only should people be alert to prevent being unduly influenced by others, but
there is no need for any intelligent person to rely on the dictates of some leader to
ascertain what is, and what is not spiritual. Thoughts, feelings and actions that tend to
raise the dominant vibratory rate are spiritual, and thoughts, feelings and actions that
tend to lower the dominant vibratory rate are unspiritual.
Whichever of the methods an individual has used to raise his dominant vibratory rate,
if it has been raised sufficiently that he may be termed a spiritual individual, he is sure
to exhibit that spirituality by his thoughts, feelings and actions. Not only does any
effort to gain a selfish advantage over a fellowman have a coarse vibratory rate which
lowers the spirituality, but to remain unmoved in the presence of injustice, or to be
callous to the misery of others, also lowers the spirituality. And those who, regardless
of their religious pronouncements, make no effort to correct these prevalent
conditions in the world lack that refinement which indicates a high dominant
vibratory rate.
Whichever of the three methods of raising his dominant vibratory rate a person has
most employed in becoming spiritual, we may be sure of this, if he is truly spiritual he
occupies a basic vibratory level where the welfare of every individual on earth is a
matter of concern.
Abhorring both injustice and misery, the truly spiritual individual therefore rejects
the idea that only the special privileged few should be permitted to enjoy such
advantages as earth has to offer. Instead, he works to the end that all the people of the
world should have as ample opportunity as possible to make both intellectual and
spiritual progress. And this means, as explained in detail in Chapter 1, that he works
to enable all the people of the world to have freedom from want, freedom from
fear, freedom of expression and freedom of worship.