We are often asked the question which is probably in the minds of the majority of our students, at least those who have not yet manifested any marked exhibition of psychic power: “How can one develop the psychic power which is latent within him?”
There are many methods of such development, a few of which are desirable; many of which are undesirable, and some of which are positively harmful.
Among the harmful methods are those in use among certain savage races, and which obtain even among misguided ones of our own race. We allude to such objectionable practices as the use of stupefying drugs, whirling dances, voodoo practices, repulsive rites of the black magicians, and other similar practices which we do not consider it wisdom to even mention.
These practices aim to produce an abnormal condition similar to intoxication, and which, like intoxication and drug habits, only result in physical and psychical ruin. Those indulging in them do, it is true, develop a low order of psychic or astral power, but they invariably attract to themselves an undesirable class of astral entities and often open themselves up to the influence of a low order of intelligences, which wise men carefully avoid and refuse to entertain. We will do no more than to utter a warning against these practices and their results.
Our work is intended to elevate our students, not to drag them down to the level of the black magicians. Other practices, more or less undesirable, although not absolutely harmful in the sense that we speak of the last mentioned ones, are more or less common among both the Hindus of a certain class and the Western peoples. We allude to methods of self hypnotization and of hypnotization by others, in order to produce, or induce, a psychic condition in which the person is entitled to catch glimpses of the astral world.
Gazing at some bright object until a trance-like condition is induced, or the repetition of some monotonous formula until a drowsy condition is produced, are among the methods of this class. In the same class we place the ordinary process of hypnotism by others for the same purpose.
There is, of course, a higher form of “mesmerism” known to occultists, which is on an entirely different plane, but occultists are reluctant to use same, except in certain cases, where good may result, and such methods are not known to the ordinary operator, who, alas, too often is a person of imperfect occult knowledge and training and of a low degree of moral character. We caution our students against allowing themselves to be experimented with in this manner.
There are two methods of psychic development practiced by the Yogis, which we will mention here. The first and highest is the development of psychic powers by first developing the spiritual faculties and nature, when the psychic powers may be used with intelligence and power without any special training – the higher attainment carrying with it the lower. In other words, the Yogi, bent on spiritual attainment, contents himself with merely an intellectual acquaintance with psychic power, in passing on, and then after he has acquired the higher spiritual knowledge and development, he returns and uses the tools ready at his hand, the use of which he now understands. In the Fourteenth Lesson of this series we will point out the way of this development – the lesson will be entirely devoted to pointing out the way to spiritual attainment.
There is, however, another way whereby some students of the Yogi Philosophy develop psychic powers in themselves, preferring to gain this knowledge by experiment and experience before passing on to the spiritual plane. We have no fault to find with this course, providing the student does not regard psychic power as the end of attainment, and providing he always is inspired with worthy motives and does not allow the interest of the astral plane to divert him from the main object – spiritual development. Some of the Yogi students follow the plan of first mastering the body by the mind, and then mastering the Instinctive Mind by the Intellect under the direction of the will. The first steps in the mastery of the body have been spoken of by us in “Science of Breath,” and will be more clearly brought out and added to in our forthcoming book, “Hatha Yoga.” The mental control forms a subject in itself, and we trust to find time to write a little manual on the subject some time during the present year.
If the student wishes to experiment a little for himself, we suggest that he acquire self-control and practice Concentration, in the Silence. Many of you have already had exhibitions of psychic power, and you may practice along the lines corresponding to the manifestations you have already had. If it be Telepathy, practice with some of your friends and note results. A little practice will work wonders for you. If it be Clairvoyance, you may practice with a crystal, or glass of clear water, to assist in concentrating, and to form the beginning of the astral tube. If it be Psychometry, practice by picking up some object, such as a pebble, a coin, a key, etc., and sit quietly taking note of the fleeting impressions which at first will come but dimly before your mind. The description of the different classes of phenomena mentioned in this lesson will suggest methods and exercises for you.