Franz Hartmann MD Magic, White and Black

The Science of Finite and Infinite Life

(1888) 4th edition

Franz Hartmann, MD

Chapter XII - Theosophy

"He to whom time is like eternity, and eternity like time, is free." -- Jackob Boehme

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Inexpressable Truth

To picture the eternal and intellectually incomprehensible in forms, and to describe the unimaginable in words, is a task whose difficulty has been experienced by all who ever attempted it. The formless cannot be described in forms, it can only be represented by allegories which can only be understood by those whose minds are open to the spiritual illumination of truth.

The misunderstanding of allegorical expressions in the sacred books has led to religious wars, to the torturing, burning, and killing of thousands of innocent victims, it has caused the living wives of dead Hindus to be burned with the corpses of their husbands, it has caused ignorant men and women to throw themselves before the wheels of the car of the Juggernath, it causes the endless quarrels between some 200 Christian sects, and while the truth unites all humanity into one harmonious whole, the misunderstanding of it produces innumerable discords and diseases.

Far, in the unfathomable abyss of space, far beyond the reach of the imagination of man, unapproachable even by the highest and purest angel or thought, and nevertheless omnipresent in his own essence and power, self-existent, eternal, resplendent in his own glory is the Shining One, whose Centre is rest, peace and happiness, whose heart is invisible Fire, whose rays are Light and Life, pervading the Universe to its utmost limits, penetrating every form and causing it to live and to grow.

Their harmonious vibrations are undulating through space, nourishing all animate and inanimate beings with the substance of Love. Meeting with the sleeping forms of thought in space, the products of a previous day of creation, the divine rays of wisdom endow them with life, causing them to become living systems of worlds, chained together by the power of mutual recognition, manifesting itself as attraction and guiding them on in their restless revolutions.

Penetrating into the hearts of animals and men, they create sensation and relative consciousness, cause the form to feel, to perceive and to know its surroundings, call into life the emotions, instincts, and the power of reasoning. Penetrating deep into the hearts of men, they kindle there the divine fire in whose light man may see the image of the Shining One, and know it to be his own immortal ideal, to be realised within himself.

But it is beyond the power of man to describe in language that which cannot be described, to combine words, so that the reader may form an intellectual conception of something, for which no intellectual conception exists, because it is beyond the experience of the limited mind. In the presence of the highest, the unthinkable ideal, intellectual labour ceases, and spiritual recognition begins.

"The secret things belong to the Lord"; only divine wisdom itself can know that which is divine; it being the self-knowledge of God in man; the self-realisation of truth. Intellectual labour is a function which man shares with certain animals; but the prerogative of spiritual man is to realise within his own self-consciousness the presence of Truth, to become himself one with the God of the universe and join His self-knowledge, and this self-realisation of truth is called Divine Wisdom or Theosophia.[1]

[1. See "Theosophia, or Divine Wisdom" by Anonymous. From Theosophical Siftings, Vol 2, 1889-1890. Html version:   Index to all issues: ]

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Universal Source

In this eternal universal source of all that exists is all magic power contained, even to the extent of creating new worlds. The realisation of its existence is the Philosopher's Stone and the Elixir of life or Universal Panacea, which can be had everywhere and at any time without expense by every one. It is attainable only by man, because the lower animals are not yet far enough advanced to be used as vehicles for the manifestation of divine wisdom; but he whom it has awakened to life shares its attributes and is a living temple of God.

The man whom this principle has not awakened from its sleep is merely an intellectual animal, and can possess no spiritual or magical powers. Some modern "philosophers," who say that man has no magical powers, are right from their own point of view; for the "man" known to modern science has no spiritual life and therefore no spiritual power; the real man only begins to exist when he awakens to the realisation of his divine nature.

True philosophers have recognised this fact. Schopenhauer says: "In consequence of the action of 'grace,' the entire being of man becomes remodelled, so that he desires no longer anything of that for which he was craving heretofore, and becomes so to say a new man." *

* "God is as much in a stick of wood as in a human being; but the difference is that a stick of wood knows nothing of God; while man may attain the realisation of his presence in him." -- Eckhart.

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The Path

Everything in nature has a threefold nature, and likewise the allegories of the sacred books of the East as well as those of the West have a threefold meaning: an exoteric, an esoteric, and a spiritual signification. The vulgar -- the learned as well as the unlearned -- can see only the external side, which is often so absurd, that its very absurdity should serve as a warning to people endowed with reason not to accept such fables in their literal meaning.

Those who are willing to learn can be instructed, but they that believe that they already know, refuse to be taught. For this reason the man-appointed guardians of the truth, the learned teachers of science and religion are often the last ones to recognise that which is true.

How can we enter the path? -- Only in practical experience is life. Petrified speculative science, mouldy speculative philosophy, and dried-up speculative theology stand in our way. Humanity awakes from its slumber and asks for bread, but receives only a stone. It turns to science, but science is silent, wraps itself up in its vanity and turns away; it turns to philosophy, and old philosophy answers, but its talk is an incomprehensible jargon, and confuses matters still more. It turns to theology, but theology threatens the obnoxious questioner with curses, and bids him to be satisfied with a blind faith.

But the people, as a whole, are no longer satisfied with such answers; they are no longer contented with the assertion that the truth is to be known to a few privileged classes, and that they themselves must remain ignorant. Wisdom is not to be monopolised by any sectarian body or any Society.

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If we wish to enter the path to infinite life, the first requirement is:


Knowledge is the perception and understanding of truth. We can only know that which we perceive. There are two principal modes of perception, namely, seeing and feeling. Each of these modes, if unaccompanied by the other, is unreliable; only if we simultaneously see and feel a thing do we experience that it exists.

Thousands of years have passed away since mankind first saw the sun and the stars, and modern telescopes have brought them nearer to us. Nevertheless our knowledge of these cosmic bodies and the conditions of life existing upon them, consists merely of speculations and opinions, which may be overthrown at any time, when our means for observation are supplanted by better ones. We give names to the substances discovered by the spectroscope, but we will not know the true nature of the stars as long as we are not able to partake of their consciousness and experience the qualities of life and characters embodied in their forms.

For thousands of years mankind has intuitively felt the presence of the Unknown. Those who experienced the presence of the universal Spirit, know that it exists. Generations after generations have disappeared from earth after spending their lives in vain efforts to know objectively that God whose power they felt in their hearts; but whom they could not see with their eyes.

If we are able to see and to feel the external qualities of a thing, we may understand what these qualities are, but we will still be ignorant of its interior character. To know its spirit it will be necessary to enter into its spirit, and this can only be done by the spirit of man, not by his external senses. The spiritual principle in man, if once awakened to self-consciousness, has attributes and functions far superior to those of the external man; it has the power to perceive, to see and to feel the internal qualities of things which are imperceptible to the external senses; it can identify itself with the object of its observation and partake of its consciousness, it becomes for the time being united with that object and shares its feelings, it partakes of its subjective sensations.

Thus does a lover partake of the joys and sorrows of the object he loves, and feel as if he were one with it in spirit; for love is the power by which such a divine state is attained, it penetrates all things, and coming from the heart it goes to the heart.

What is it that prevents us to love and to know all things but our own dislikes and misconceptions? We do not see things as they are but as we imagine them to be. He who desires to know all things should not look upon them with his own eyes, but with the eyes of the truth; he should not think the thoughts suggested by external appearances, but he should let Divine Wisdom do his thinking within his mind.

To obtain true knowledge we must be able to receive the light of the truth; we must free our minds from the learned rubbish that has accumulated there through the perverted methods of education of modern civilization. The more false doctrines we have learned the more difficult will be the labour to make room for the truth, and it may take years to unlearn that which we have learned at the expense of a great deal of labour, money, and time.

The Bible says that "we must become like little children before we can enter the kingdom of truth." The principal thing to know is to know our own true Self; if we know ourselves, we will know that we are to be the kings of the universe. The essential Man is a Son of God, he is something incomparably greater, far more sublime and far more powerful than the insignificant, changeable and impermanent and unconscious being described as "man" in our scientific works on anthropology.

Well may Man who knows his true nature be proud of his nobility and power; well may the man of earth be ashamed of his weakness. The real Man is a divine being whose power extends as far as his thoughts can reach. The illusive man is a compound of semi-animal forces, subject to their caprices and whims, with a spark of divine fire in him to enable him to control them, but which spark is only too frequently left to smoulder and vanish. The former is immortal, the latter exists a few years among the illusions of life. The real man realises his own immortality; the deluded illusion, having the appearance of a human being, deludes itself with the hope of obtaining permission, by the favour of some personal god, to carry its falsehoods into a sphere in which only the truth exists.*

* Revelations xxi. 27. ["Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life."]

There are three kinds of knowledge, the useful, the useless, and the harmful.

The useless knowledge is the knowledge of, or rather the adherence to, illusions and falsehoods; it is no real knowledge, although it embraces a great deal of what is considered of great importance in civilized countries that men should know. It is true that modern science has on many occasions drawn away a part of the veil which hides the wonders of Wisdom in Nature; but as our science has not reached the foundation of truth; it is mixed up with illusions. Our scientific systems are continually subject to change, and what is considered to be final truth by one generation, is often rejected as false by the next. Our "scientific attainments" confer no real knowledge of fundamental law of nature, because they are based upon ignorance, in regard to the fountain of All, and, however logical the deductions made from false premises may be, falsehoods can produce only falsehood.

What can be more erroneous than the assertion of rationalistic speculators, that the intellect is a product of the material organization of the physical body; that life is a product of the mechanical action of a dead force; that effects can be produced without any adequate causes; that something can come out of something having elements therein capable to produce it; that man's mind exists within the narrow limits of his skull; that man can know nothing except what he perceives with his external senses; that consciousness is the result of the chemical action of unconscious substances; that man can will, think, imagine, love, and hate without having a soul; that wisdom, knowledge, spiritual perception, prophecy, etc., were results of pathological conditions of the body and other endless absurdities and scientific hallucinations.

As long as the true nature of man is not known, his lower interests are mistaken for his higher ones. Scientific attainments are often only used for the purpose of obtaining the power to speculate on the ignorance of those that have no such intellectual acquirements, and by taking advantage of their beliefs to obtain money and material comfort. Such scientific attainments may be good for such purposes, but they retard the progress of man in a spiritual direction, because they make men more selfish, and cause them to worship matter; they are therefore useless for the only true and permanent interest of man.

If science wishes to find the foundation of truth, it must begin to realise the unity of the universe and know that the world of appearances manifested in nature is a revelation of truth originating in divine wisdom. This realisation cannot be attained by arguments and inferences, it is only realised by the power of universal love, which is the recognition of truth.

"To bring thee to thy God,
love takes the shortest route;
The way which science leads
is but a round about."

-- Angelus Silesius.

The harmful knowledge consists in scientific attainments without any corresponding perception of the moral aspect of truth. It is only partial knowledge, because it recognises only a part of the truth. A high intellectual development without any corresponding growth of spirituality is a curse to mankind. Knowledge to be good must be illuminated by Wisdom; knowledge without wisdom is dangerous to possess. Misunderstanding and misapplication of truths are the sources of evil.

"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

[--Alexander Pope]

Such an attainment of knowledge without wisdom may become detrimental. The invention of the fulminates of mercury, of gunpowder and nitro-glycerine, has caused much suffering to a large part of humanity. Not that the substances applied, or the forces which are liberated, are intrinsically evil, but their misapplication in the hands of those without wisdom leads to evil results. If all men were intelligent enough to understand the laws which govern the world, and wise enough to employ their knowledge for good purposes only, no evil results would follow.

One of the most harmful acquisitions is the so-called "religious knowledge"; that is to say the holding on to theological doctrines which are wrong or misunderstood, because it is unaccompanied by any unfoldment of true spirituality. Such a "religion" results in bigotry, hypocrisy and intolerance; it is based upon fear and not upon faith. A religion without universal love is an absurdity; because that Love is the link which relates man to God. A faith without love is only a superstition. Nevertheless it is that foolish "faith" which clamours the most for its rights.

"Faith without love will make
the greatest roar and din;
The cask sounds loudest
when there is nought within."

-- Angelus Silesius.

If we proceed a step further and imagine intellectual but wicked and selfish people possessed not only of the power to employ explosives, and poisonous drugs, to injure others, but able to send their own degrading poisonous thoughts to a distance, to leave at will the prison-house of the physical body to kill or injure others, the most disastrous results would follow. Such forbidden knowledge has been and is sometimes possessed by people with criminal tendencies, a fact which is universally known in the East, and upon the possibility and actuality of such facts have been established on many occasions, and among others by many of the witch trials of the Middle Ages.

Modern scientists may now laugh at these facts, but the doctors of law, of medicine, and of theology of their times, were as sure of their knowledge as modern representatives of science are of their own opinions to-day, and the former had as many intellectual capacities as the latter. The only difference is that the former knew these facts, but gave a wrong explanation; the latter find it easier to ignore than to explain.

Man is continually surrounded by unseen influences, and the astral plane is swarming with entities and forces, which are acting upon him for good or for evil, according to his good or evil inclinations. At the present state of evolution man has a physical body, which is admirably adapted to modify the influence from the astral plane, and to shelter him against the "monsters of the deep."

If the physical body is in good health, it acts as an armour, and, moreover, man has the power, by a judicious exercise of his will, to so concentrate the odic aura by which he is surrounded, as to render his armour impenetrable to the influences of the astral world and its inhabitants; but if by bad health, by a careless expenditure of vitality, or by the practice of mediumship, he disperses his protective power, his physical armour will become weakened and unable to guard him; he becomes the victim of elementaries and elemental forces, his mental faculties lose their balance, and sooner or later he will, like the symbolical Adam and Eve, know that he is naked, and exposed to influences which he cannot repel.

Such is the result for which those ignorantly crave who wish to obtain knowledge without corresponding morality. To supply the ignorant or weak with powers of destruction would be like providing children with gunpowder and matches for play.

Only an intelligent and well-balanced mind can discriminate properly and dive into the hidden mysteries of Nature. "Only the pure in heart can see God." He who has reached that stage need not search the world for a person to instruct him; the higher intelligences will be attracted to him, and become his instructor, in the same manner as he himself is attracted by the beauty of an animal or of a flower.

A harp does not invent sound but obeys the hand of a master, and the more perfect the instrument, the sweeter will be the music. A diamond does not originate light, but reflects it, and the purer the diamond the purer will be its lustre. Man does not invent or create thought, will, and intelligence. He is a mirror in which the thoughts of the world are reflected, an instrument through which the will of nature expresses itself; a pearl filled with a drop of water from the universal ocean of intelligence.

The only true knowledge is the knowledge of one's own true self, which knows neither "good" nor "evil," but is the realisation of truth. He who ate from the tree of the knowledge of illusion has died; because by experiencing the illusion of self, he has died to his spiritual nature and become an illusion himself.* If you eat of the tree of divine knowledge, which is the tree of life, your illusion will die and you will live. Your personality will be swallowed up by a realisation of the fact that "you" are nothing, and that God in you is the only true self and the All. Realising this, you will not be "as one of the gods;" but a self-conscious power in God, unlimited and immortal.

* Gen. ii. 17.

How can self-knowledge be attained? The answer is: "By the realisation of truth." The truth is everywhere, always ready to manifest itself in you and around you, if you only permit it to become manifest. Wisdom requires no other teacher but wisdom itself. Rise up to it in your soul and it will descend upon you and fill your heart. He who ascends to the top of a high mountain need not enquire for somebody to bring him pure air. Pure air surrounds him there on all sides. The realm of wisdom is not limited, and he whose mind is receptive will not suffer from want of divine grace to feed his holy aspiration.

The school in which the occulist graduates has many classes, each class representing a life. The days of vacation may arrive before the lesson is learned, and what has been learned may be forgotten during the time of vacation; but still the impression remains, and a thing once learned is easily learned again. This accounts for the different talents with which men are endowed, and for their propensities for good or for evil.

No effort is lost, every cause creates a corresponding effect, no favours are granted, no injustice takes place. Blind to bribes and deaf to appeals is the law of justice, dealing its treasures out to every one according to his capacities to receive, but he who has no selfish desire for reward, and no cowardly fear of punishment, but who dares to act rightly because he will not do wrong, identifies himself with the law, and in the equilibrium of the law will he find his Power.

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The second requirement is


If we are not willing to receive the truth we will not obtain it.

Men believe that they love the truth, but there are few who loving for its own sake desire it. They desire welcome truths; those that are unwelcome are rejected. Opinions which flatter the vanity and are in harmony with accustomed modes of thought are accepted; strange truths are regarded with astonishment and driven away from the door. Men are often afraid of that which they do not know, and, not knowing the truth, they are afraid to receive it. They ask new truths for their passports, and if they do not bear the stamp of some fashionable authority they are looked upon as illegitimate children, and are not permitted to grow.

How shall we learn to love the truth? By learning to know it. How can we know the truth? By learning to love it. The deluded asks for external proofs, but the wise requires no other certificate for the truth but its own revelation. There can be no difference between speculative and practical knowledge; because knowledge is one, an opinion based upon mere speculation is no knowledge. Knowledge can only be attained by speculation, if the speculation is accompanied by experience. Those who want to know the truth must practise it; those who cannot practise it will not know it; speculation without practice is only a deceitful dream.

Man can have no actual desire for a thing which he has never experienced, and which he therefore not knows. How can we love a thing of which we know not that it exists? How can we know its existence, except by realising its presence? How can we realise its presence if we do not enjoy it? How can we enjoy it if we do not love it? Neither inductive nor deductive reasoning can give us a realisation of truth. Divine Reason itself alone can cause it to become manifest in ourselves.

To know that a thing is good, is to desire it; for it is a law acting within the constitution of man, no less than among the planets, that we should be attracted to that which we know to be good and be repulsed by that which we know to be evil. A strong desire to be good, causes man to perform good actions; a desire to be evil, causes him to commit evil deeds. Man is the product of his own thoughts and acts; if he thinks and acts good, he becomes good; if he thinks and acts evil, he becomes evil. In an occult sense "willing" is identical with "feeling"; for the substance of the Will, if infused with the consciousness of the Spirit, feels and grasps its object. Willing, knowing, and acting are ultimately identical; because we can only will what we know, and we can only know that of which we have an experience.

The only way to obtain true practical knowledge of spiritual truths is by the practice of the truth -- in other words, the awakening of the inner consciousness to the recognition of truth existing within oneself. Only a mind which has been purified from all selfish desires, and is filled with a strong determination to learn the truth, is thereby "duly and truly prepared" to enter the temple of wisdom. Every time that a person, either for selfish purposes or to gratify the whim of another, or for any other personal consideration, gives his consent to something, of which his reason or conscience tells him that it ought not to be; however insignificant such an act may be; it will nevertheless involve for him a loss of a certain amount of will.

Man is chained to the kingdom of his illusions with a thousand chains. The inhabitants of his earthly soul appear before him in their most seductive forms. If they are driven away they change their masks and appear in some other form. But the chains by which man is bound are forged by his own desire. His vices do not cling to him against his will. He clings to them, and they will desert him as soon as he rises up in the strength and dignity of his manhood and shakes them off. There is a method, by which we may, without any active effort, obtain that which we desire, and this is that we should desire nothing except what the divine spirit wills within our own heart.

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The third requirement is


We must dare to act and throw off low desires, instead of waiting inactively until they desert us. We must dare to tear ourselves loose from accustomed habits, irrational thoughts, and selfish considerations, and from everything that is an impediment to our recognition of truth. We must dare to conquer ourselves and the world by becoming like a disinterested spectator, taking no part in the performance,* -- not on account of any stupid indifference or mournful acquiescence to the decrees of fate, nor on account of being a "pessimist" or a misanthrope; but on account of having outgrown the follies of the lower world and realising the beauties of the high.

* Bhagavad Gita.

We must learn to overcome our own ignorance, dare to face the ridicule of the ignorant, the vilifications of bigots, the haughtiness of the vain, the contempt of the learned, and the envy of the small; dare to proclaim the truth if it is useful to do so, and dare to be silent if taunted by the fool.** We must dare to face poverty, suffering, and isolation, be superior to all ills that may affect us, and act under all circumstances according to our highest conception of truth.

** Prov, xxvi. 4.

All this might be easily accomplished, if the will of man were free, if man were his own master and not bound with the chains of the soul; but man is only free to a certain extent. Man may perform certain acts and leave others undone if he chooses; but his wisdom determines his choice. A man knowing and wise has the power to will that which he does not desire personally, and not to will that to which his desires attract him. To make the will free, action is required, and each action strengthens the will, and each unselfish deed increases its power.

There is only one divine Law and one divine Will; the Will of divine Wisdom. He who follows the law executes the will of God; he who opposes it may become individually strong in his self-will; but will finally be crushed by the opposing force, which is immeasurably stronger than he. Dare to obey the Law, and you will become your own Master, and the Lord over all.

There are three ways to develop the power of will:

The first is to act against our own desires by forcing ourselves to perform acts which are disagreeable and painful. This method used to be prevalent in the West during the Middle Ages, and is to-day practised in the East by Fakirs and the lower class of ascetics. It is a method by which people disposed to witchcraft may obtain sufficient strength of will to control some of the lower Elementals, and acquire power to affect men and animals at a distance by the influence of their will. It consists in the endurance of pain with indifference, and the accounts given by travellers in the East show to what height of absurdity such practices of Hatha yoga have been carried out. But while such practices may strengthen the will, they do not eradicate selfishness; but they rather increase it. Seen in the proper light, people given to such practices do not act against their desires; because their desire is the attainment of personal power. Penances and tortures are therefore worse than useless for the higher development of the soul.

The second way is not to follow our unlawful desires on account of being afraid of the consequences which we might have to experience if we were to be disobedient to the law. This is the kind of morality which is usually to be found in the world; but which is based upon cowardice and not upon recognition of truth. Its foundation is the idea to forego a small pleasure for the purpose of enjoying a greater pleasure of an equally selfish kind.

Philosophical courage is a quality for which men are admired everywhere; its foundation is personal vanity. The Red Indian prides himself at his indifference to physical pain, the Fakir undergoes tortures to strengthen his will-power, the civilised soldier is eager to prove his contempt for danger, and to measure his strength with the strength of the enemy.

But there are deeds to perform [i.e., the third way] that require a courage of a superior kind. It requires only momentary outbursts of ambition to perform a daring deed on the physical plane, but a continual and unremitted strain is needed to keep the emotions subjected, and this strain is rendered still more fatiguing by the circumstance that it depends entirely on our own will whether or not we will endure it, and that if we relax the bridle and allow our emotions to run free, sensual gratification will be the result.

The performance of such deed of valour requires not merely a philosophical, but a theosophical courage; namely the courage to do one's duty because it is one's duty to do it, and for no other reason. Therefore, the best way is, not to make any selfish attempts at all to overcome our desires; but to let the recognition of truth overcome these desires; to sacrifice not merely our desires, but our own self with all its desires to the fountain of Divine Wisdom, which is to be found in the temple of our own heart, and to remain there even while we attend to the duties of life.

If we enter that place, all desires will remain outside; they cannot enter the sacred precinct. It requires a courage of the highest order to act under all circumstances in obedience to divine law. Long may the battle last, but each victory strengthens the will; each act of submission renders it more powerful, until at last the combat is ended, and over the battlefield where the remnants of the slain desires are exposed to the decomposing action of the elements hovers the spiritual eagle, rising towards the sun and enjoying the serene tranquillity of the ethereal realm.

Metals are purified by fire and the spirit is purified by suffering. Only when the molten mass has cooled can we judge of the progress of the purification; only when a victory over the emotions is gained, and peace follows after the struggle, can the spirit rest to contemplate and realise the beauty of eternal truth. In vain will men attempt to listen to the voice of truth during the clash of contending desires and opinions, only in the silence that follows the storm can the voice of truth be heard.*

* "Light on the Path," by M. C. [Mabel Collins. Full text in html: /magic/light-on-the-path/ ]

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The fourth requirement to the recognition of the truth is therefore


This means that we must not allow any desire to speak in our heart, but only the voice of the truth; because the truth is a jealous goddess and suffers no rivals. He who selects wisdom for the bride of his soul must woo her with his whole heart and dismiss the concubines from the bridal chamber of his soul. He must clothe her in the purity of his affection and ornament her with the gold of his love, for wisdom is modest, she does not adorn herself but waits until she is adorned by her lover. She cannot be bought with money nor with promises, her love is only gained by acts of devotion. Science is only the handmaid of wisdom, and he who makes love to the servant will be rejected by the mistress; but he who sacrifices his whole being to wisdom will be united with it.

The Bhagwat Gita says: "He who thinketh constantly of me, his mind undiverted by any other object, will find me. I will at all times be easily found by a constant devotion to me."

The Christian Mystic, Jackob Boehme, an illuminated seer, expresses the same truth, in the form of a dialogue between the master and his disciple, as follows:

The disciple said to the master: "How can I succeed in arriving at that supersensual life, in which I may see and hear the Supreme?"

The master answered: "If you can only for a moment enter in thought into the formless, where no creature resides, you will hear the voice of the Supreme."

The disciple said: "Is this far or near?"

The master answered: "It is in yourself, and if you can command only for one hour the silence of your desires, you will hear the inexpressible words of the Supreme. If your own will and self are silent in you, the perception of the eternal will be manifest through you; God will hear, and see, and talk through you; your own hearing, desiring, and seeing prevents you to see and hear the Supreme."*

* Jackob Boehme: "Theosophical Writings," book vi.

These directions are identical with those prescribed by the practice of Raja Yoga, by which the holy men of the East unite their minds with the formless and infinite. All religious ceremonies are calculated to elevate the mind into the region of the formless, and, in fact, all religious systems can have no other ultimate object than to teach methods how to attain such states.

All churches are not worthy the name of "church," which means a spiritual union, unless they serve as schools in which the science of uniting oneself with the eternal fountain of life is practically taught. But it is easier to allow one's mind to revel among the multifarious forms and attractions of the material plane, or to go through forms of external "worship"; than to enter into nothingness, where at first no sound is heard but the echo of our voice.

It is easier to let our minds be controlled by thoughts that visit the mind than to close the doors of the soul to all thoughts that have not the seal of truth impressed upon their forms; and this is the reason why the majority of men and women prefer the illusions of finite life to the eternal realities of the infinite; why they prefer ignorance to a knowledge of truth.

To be silent means to let no other language be heard within the heart but the language of God, to listen to the voice of Divine Wisdom speaking within the heart.*

* H. P. Blavatsky. "The Voice of the Silence" [Full text, Blavatsky section: /blavatsky/voice-of-the-silence/ ]

He who has learned to know, to will, to dare, and to be silent, is upon the true path that leads to immortal life, but by those who move merely in the sensual plane, or whose minds are absorbed in external things of the intellectual plane, even the meaning of these words will not be understood.

Various instructions are given in the books of the East in regard to the practice of this silence and interior meditation, but they all teach the same thing, namely, a concentration of man's higher consciousness to a single point within his own centre.

In the Oupnekhata [2] the following directions are given: --

[2. A revision (1801) of one of the Hindu Upanishads. See and Wikipedia-Upanishads ]

"Breathe deep and slow, and concentrate your unwavering attention into the midst of your body, into the region of the heart. The lamp in your body will then be protected against wind and motion, and your whole body will become illuminated. You must withdraw all your senses within yourself like a turtle, which withdraws its members within the shell. Enter your own heart and guard it, and Brahma will enter it like a fire or a stroke of lightning. In the midst of the big fire in your heart will be a small flame, and in the centre of it will be Atma."

Herocarcas, an abbot of a convent upon the mount Athos, gives to his monks the following directions to acquire the power of true clairvoyance:

"Sit alone in your room, after having the door locked against intrusion, concentrate your mind upon the region of the navel and try to see with that. Try to find the seat of your heart (sink your consciousness into your heart), where the centre of power resides. At first you will find nothing but darkness; but if you continue for days and nights without fatigue, you will see light, and experience inexpressible things. When the spirit once recognises its own centre in the heart, it will know what it never knew before, and there will be nothing hidden before its sight, whether in heaven or upon the earth."

Let us compare with these statements one received from an unknown uneducated person, who is an illuminate of our times. He has never heard of the Oupnekata nor of Herocarcas; but he possesses the power to see interior truths. He says:

"Sink your thoughts downward into the centre of your being, and you will find there a germ which, if continually nourished by pure and holy thoughts, will grow into a power that will extend and ramify through all parts of your body. Your hands and feet and your body will become alive; a sun will appear within your heart and illuminate your whole being. In this light you will see the present, the past, and the future, and by its aid you will attain the true knowledge of self."

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Man is himself a creation of thought, pervading the ocean of Mind. If his soul is in perfect accord with the truth, the truth will be one with his soul. A talented musician will not need a scientific calculation of the vibrations of sound to know whether a melody which he hears is melodious or not; a person who is one with the truth will recognise himself in the mirrors of every external manifestation of truth.

The highest magical power in nature is Wisdom; it is the oneness of Intelligence, Will and Law. It is the highest ideal that man can possess. The highest power of the soul is to express wisdom in language, the highest power of physical man is to embody that language in acts.

Every form in Nature is a symbol of an idea and represents a sign, or a letter, or a word; and a succession of such symbols forms a language. [3] Nature is therefore the divine language, in which the Universal Mind expresses its ideas.

[3. See Jacob Boehme, The Signature of All Things.]

The individual mind which is developed to such a state of perfection as to form the best instrument through which the highest intelligence can manifest itself, will be the most apt to realise the meaning of that language. The highest secrets of Nature are, therefore, accessible to him whose mental constitution is so perfected as to enable him to understand the language of Nature.

Such a language means a radiation of the essence of things into the centre of the human mind, and a radiation from that centre into the universal ocean of mind. Man in a state of purity, being an image and an external expression of the highest spiritual power, is able to reflect and reproduce the highest truth in its original purity, and man's expressions ought therefore to be a perfect reproduction or echo of the impressions which he receives from the sphere of eternal truth.

But average man being immersed in matter, as a result of a combination of principles on a lower scale of evolution, receives the pure original rays only in a state of refraction, and can therefore reproduce them only in an imperfect condition. He has wandered away from the sun of truth, and beholding it from a distance it appears to him only as a small star, about to vanish from sight.

Everything in Nature has its natural name, and he who has the power to call a thing by that name can call its form into existence. This proper name of a thing is its character, the expression of the totality of its powers and attributes, to cause the truth in a thing to become manifest by the spiritual power of the living word, is to call it into existence. This cannot be done by any merely external language; but by the living power of the spirit, of which the external expression is merely an outward symbol and form.*

* "There are three states of Vach or 'word,' each more interior than the other, and each has three elements; the meaning, the thought and its expression in sound." Subba Rao, "Lectures on the Bhagavad Gita."

There is only one genuine and interior language for man, the symbols of which are natural and must be intelligible to all, and this language is an interior direct communication of thought. This interior language is the parent of the exterior one, and being caused by the radiation of the first cause which is unity and with whom all men are one, it follows that if the original radiation of the supreme ray were existing in all men in its original purity, all men would understand the same language.

There exists such an external language, which is a perfect expression of that interior one; but this language is known to only few and it cannot be artificially acquired. He who knows the internal language will also know the external one. [4]

[4. See Gurdjieff's remarks on languge in Chapter 6 of PD Ouspensky's In Search of the Miraculous. Pdf on this page: /gurdjieff/ ]

The interior language breathes spirit; while the exterior one is only a succession of sounds. The key to that interior language is in the divine Word, the key to the exterior one is the mental organisation of collective bodies of men. Man in his present condition hears the voice which speaks that interior language, [5] but does not understand it; he sees the sacred symbols, but does not comprehend them; his ear is accustomed to connect certain meanings with certain sounds, but the true vibrations are lost; he understands human writings in books, but he cannot divine the hieroglyphics that express the true nature of things.

[5. Gurdjieff: The higher intellectual canter and higher emotional center are already functioning, but the lower centers are not connected to them.]

Each character has its own true symbol and form, which expresses its nature; each symbol is a thing representing the essential character of a certain power, and this character can therefore be recognised by him who knows the language of nature in the same way as an artist recognises the character of another artist, by simply beholding his work.

Men have ever been desiring an universal language. Such an universal language cannot be arbitrarily constructed, or if so constructed, would be more difficult to learn than any other. True language must express the harmony of the soul with the nature of things, and as long as there is a differentiation of national character and disharmony there can be no universal harmonious language.

There is a threefold expression of divine essence; a physical, an intellectual, and a divine word. The first is the language of nature, the second the language of reason, the third one is the language of God, which is thought, speech and action in one, and which is therefore a creative power. Each true symbol or form is an external image of an internal state. Each body is the symbol of an invisible and corresponding power, and Man, in whom the highest powers are contained, is the most noble symbol in nature, the first and most beautiful letter in the alphabet of earth.

If he were true to his own divine nature, his body would be a body of light, a perfect expression of beauty. For every thought there is an outward expression, and if we have a thought which we cannot express by symbols, it does not follow that such symbols do not exist, but that we are unacquainted with them.

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Man's Actions

A word or a language is the expression of thought, and to be perfect it must give perfect expression to the thought it is intended to convey. By giving a false expression to thought the true power of language is lost. In our present state of civilisation words are used more for the purpose of concealing than revealing thought. Lying involves a loss of spiritual power.

To give pure and perfect expression to thought is White Magic; to act upon the imagination so as to create false impressions is witchcraft, deception, and falsehood. Such witchcraft is practised every day and almost in every station of life, from the priest in the pulpit who wheedles his audience into a belief that he possesses the keys of heaven, down to the merchant who cheats with his goods, and the old maid securing a husband by means of artificial teeth and false hair.

Such practices are publicly denounced but silently followed; they lead to a universal disappearance of faith and trust, they will necessarily lead to active evil and bring destruction upon the nation that allows them to grow; because, as the power of good increases by practice, in the same manner increases the power of evil.

Man's mission is to do the highest good to himself; that means to do that which is most useful for his highest development, and being in his true nature universal and unlimited, his highest good can only be obtained by working for the benefit of the whole world and not for his own limited personality.

In this way his nature will become more refined, and its interior illuminated by the light of divine wisdom. By living attached to "self" he attracts to himself the unintelligent and material principles of Nature, his constitution becomes more material, degraded and heavy until, unable to rise to the true light, he becomes metaphysically petrified, lost in the astral plane.

Man's actions are his writings. By putting his thoughts into action, he expresses them and records them in the book of life. Every evil act is followed by a degradation of character, a metaphysical incrustation of the soul. Good actions dissolve existing incrustations produced by evil deeds, and re-establish the soul in its former condition. Repentance, unless followed by a change of nature, is useless. It is like the inflammation caused by a thorn in the flesh; it causes pain, and unless the cause is removed putrefaction will be the result. Man's acts are his creations, they give expression to his thoughts. The motive endows them with character, the will furnishes them with life.

An intention is practically useless as long as it is not put into practice. A sign, a letter, or a word is useless unless it conveys a meaning; a symbol represents an idea, but no symbol can be efficacious unless one masters that which it represents. The most potent magical signs are useless to him who cannot spiritually in his soul realise what they mean, while in him who has soul-knowledge, the use of a single point, a line, or any geometrical figure, may put spiritual powers into action.

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Magical Symbols

Let us in conclusion attempt to explain exoterically and esoterically a few of the most important magical signs. We may succeed to a certain extent in giving these explanations in words; but their spiritual meaning cannot be expressed in language nor even in music. Language can merely attempt to guide the reader into a region of thought in which he may be able to perceive the secret meaning with the eye of the spirit; if he has the power of perceiving the truth spiritually by the light of the truth.

A 5-pointed star drawn by double lines,
                                the intersections being under and over, creting a 3D effect.

The Pentagram or the Five-pointed Star.

In its external appearance it is merely a geometrical figure, found everywhere as a trade-mark or ornament. Superstitious and credulous people once believed, that if it were drawn upon the doors of their houses it would protect them against the intrusions of the sorcerer and the witch.

In its esoteric signification it symbolises Man. The four lower triangles represent the four elementary forces of nature, and as the lines of each triangle are intimately connected or identical with those forming the other lines, the sum of these lines forming only one broken line without any interruption, likewise the four lower elements are intimately connected and identical with the fifth element, the quintessence of all things, situated at the top of the figure; representing the head, the seat of intelligence.

The spiritual knowledge of the Five-pointed Star is identical with its practical application. Let us beware that the figure is always well drawn, leaving no open space, through which the enemy can enter and disturb the harmony existing in the Pentagon. Let us keep the figure always upright, with the topmost triangle pointing to heaven, for it is the seat of Wisdom, and if the figure is reversed perversion and evil will be the result.

Let the lines be straight, so that all the triangles will be harmonious and of equal size, so that the symbol will grow without any abnormal development of one principle at the cost of another. Then the lower triangles will send their quintessence to the top, the seat of intelligence, and the top will supply the lower triangles with power and induce them to grow. Then, when the time of probation and development is over, the triangles will be absorbed by the Pentagon in the centre, and form into a square within the invisible circle connecting the apices of the triangles, and our destiny will be fulfilled.

There is no higher duty for man to perform, than to keep the Five-pointed Spiritual Star intact; it will be his protection during life and his salvation in the hereafter.

A 6-pointed star drawn as two interlocking triangles, with both of the
                                    stars drawn with double lines.

The Double Triangle or Six-pointed Star.

This is one of the most important magical signs, and practically applied it invests man with magic power. Its exoteric meaning is merely two triangles joined together, so that they partially cover each other, while the apex of one points upwards and the apex of the other downward. It is sometimes surrounded by a circle or by a snake biting its tail, and sometimes with a tau in the middle.

Its esoteric meaning is very extensive. It represents among other things the descent of spirit into matter, and the ascension of matter to spirit, which is continually taking place within the circle of eternity, represented by the snake, the symbol of wisdom. Six points are seen in the star, but the seventh cannot be seen; nevertheless the seventh point must exist unmanifested, it not having become manifest; because without a centre there could be no six-pointed star, nor any other figure existing.

But who can describe in words the secret spiritual and universal signification of the six-pointed star and its invisible centre? Who can intellectually grasp and describe the beauties and truths which it represents? Only he who experiences in his own divine nature the power of this sign can practically apply it, and he who can apply it practically is an Adept.

Knowing that sign practically means to realise the nature of "God," to be God and know, and the laws of eternal nature, it means to know by experience the process of evolution and involution of matter and spirit; to realise how the life-impulse travels from planet to planet, beginning with the evolution of the elemental kingdom, rising up through the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdom, and at last evolving a god-like being out of animal man.

To him who cannot realise within his heart the divine mysteries of nature, the blinding light shining from the centre of the figure has no existence; but the Adept knows that invisible centre, the great Spiritual Sun, the heart of the Cosmos, from which Love and Light and Life are radiating for ever.

He sees the seven primordial rays of that light shining into invisible matter and forming visible worlds upon which men and animals live and die, and are happy or discontented according to their conditions. He sees how by the breath of that invisible centre suns and stars, planets and satellites are evolved, and how if the day of creation of forms is over, it reabsorbs them into its bosom. Verily the six-pointed star is a most potent magical sign, and it requires the wisdom of God to understand it, and the omnipotent power of Life to apply it to its fullest extent.

In its external signification the Christian Cross is a symbol of torture and death. The sight of a cross calls up in the mind of the pious the memory of a historical event said to have taken place in Palestine some two thousand years ago, when a noble, good, and just man, an incarnation of God, is said to have been executed as a criminal upon a cross.

Cross of single lines, Hebrew
                                letters at each endpoint. Clockwise from top marked I-N--R-I, 
                                and water, fire, air, earth.

The Cross.

* Compare J. R. Skinner, "Key to the Hebrew-Egyptian Mystery." [Link at ]

The esoteric meaning of the Cross is very ancient, and the Cross has existed as a secret symbol probably thousands of years ago, before the Christian era. It is found in the ancient cave-temples of India and Egypt, where it was hewn in stone long before Christianity was known. The philosophical Cross represents, among other things, the principle of matter and that of spirit intersecting each other, forming the quaternary which, when it is inscribed in the square, forms the basis of knowledge for the Occultist.

The horizontal line represents the animal principle, for the heads of animals are bowed to the earth. Man is the only being upon the globe who stands erect; the divine principle within him keeps him morally erect, and therefore the perpendicular line is the symbol of his divinity. The cross represents Man, who has acted against the law and thereby transformed himself into an instrument for his own torture.

From the beginning of his existence as a ray of the divine spiritual Sun he represented a perpendicular line, cutting in the direction of the source from which he emanated in the beginning. As the distance from that source increased, and as the ray entered into matter, it deviated from the originally straight line and became broken; creating thereby a division in its own essence and making two parts out of the original Unity; thus establishing a will and imagination of its own, acting not in accordance with the Law, but even in opposition to it. If man follows again the dictates of the Law, he will then be taken from the Cross and resume his former position. "To take up one's Cross," means to submit one's own desires to the rule of divine Law.

Who can know the practical spiritual signification of the Cross except spiritual man, who by his incarnation in a terrestrial human form has become nailed to the cross of suffering the ills of the flesh and its temptations, nor can he regain his freedom unless the terrestrial man dies the mystic death for him, by nailing his self-will to the cross of the law and dying the mystic death, so that the true man may live.

On the head of the Christian cross there are inscribed the letters I.N.R.I., which in its exoteric meaning is said to read "Jesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudeorum." This means that the light of Divine Wisdom is the king of all knowledge, and must rule over all intellectual speculations, to which not only the Jews, but also our modern philosophers are devoted. But the Rosicrucian meaning of these letters was: In Nobis Begnat Jesus, and this truth will also be realised only by those who are in possession of immortal life; and because in them the true Jesus, the spiritual soul, illumined by the light of Divine Wisdom, has awakened to life and is actually the Lord and ruler of their interior kingdom.

In its practical application the Cross represents the self-recognition of Divine Truth. He whose spiritual perception is open sees the living Cross in its glory. Sublimely stands that Cross upon the mountain of self-knowledge, magnificent is its aspect.

Far into heaven shines the light radiating from its centre and illuminating the darkness with its beneficent rays. Rise, oh man, up to your true dignity, so that you may see the meaning of the true Cross. Not the dead wooden Cross, the emblem of ignorance and suffering, nor the glittering cross made of brass, the emblem of vanity, sectarianism and superstition; but the true Cross, made of the pure gold of the light of Wisdom which each true Brother of the Golden and Rosy Cross carries deeply buried within his own heart.

This cross is the full-grown Tree of Life and of Knowledge, bearing the fruits of salvation and immortality, the dispenser of Life, the protector against evil. He who knows practically the true mystery of the Cross is acquainted with the highest wisdom; he who is adorned with the true Cross is safe from all danger.

Infinite power of the Cross! In thee the Truth is revealed. Buried deep in the darkness of Earth is thy foot, teaching us Patience; high into the light of heaven reaches thy crown, teaching us Faith. Lifted by Hope and extended by Charity are thy arms, light and sunshine surround thee. Link upon link the chain of creation encircles the Cross; worlds within worlds, forms within forms, illusions upon illusions. But in the Centre is the Reality in which is hidden the jewel of priceless value, the Truth.

Let the dew of heaven which comes from the true Cross descend into your hearts and penetrate into your soul and body, so that it may crystallize into form. Then will the darkness within your mind disappear, the veil of matter will be rent, and before your spiritual vision will stand revealed the angel of truth. Truly! no one can be a real Christian unless he practically realises in his soul the meaning of the symbol of the Cross; the self-revelation of Truth.

The present material age is ever ready to reject without examination the symbols of the past whose meaning it cannot realise because it does not possess the treasures which they represent. Engaged in the pursuit of material pleasures, it loses sight of divine wisdom and exchanges spiritual wealth for worthless baubles. Losing sight of his divine destiny, man runs after shadows, closing his eye to the Light of the World.

Ruled by fear, man bows before the Moloch of superstition and ignorance, rushes madly into the arms of a dead and cold agnostic science to perish in its stony embrace; but the wise, whose far-seeing perception reaches beyond the narrow circle of his material surroundings and beyond the short span of time which includes one of his lives on this earth, knows that it is in his power to control his future destiny.

He raises the magic wand of his will and quiets the tempest of the soul. The forces which were rushing to his destruction obey him and execute his orders, and he walks safely upon the waters under whose calm surface is hidden the abyss of death, while above his head shines that bright constellation formed of Truth, Knowledge, and Power, whose centre is the Law and whose germs can be found in the spiritual self-consciousness of every human being.

[ end ch. 12 ]

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