Let us look at this a little more closely, with its appropriate methods. The path on which the faculty of Buddhi is used predominantly is, as just said, the path of the metaphysician. It is the path of the philosopher. He turns inwards, ever seeking to find the Self by diving into the recesses of his own nature. Knowing that the Self is within him, he tries to strip away vesture after vesture, envelope after envelope, and by a process of rejecting them he reaches the glory of the unveiled Self.
To begin this, he must give up concrete thinking and dwell amidst abstractions. His method, then, must be strenuous, long-sustained, patient meditation. Nothing else will serve his end; strenuous, hard thinking, by which he rises away from the concrete into the abstract regions of the mind; strenuous, hard thinking, further continued, by which he reaches from the abstract region of the mind up to the region of Buddhi, where unity is sensed; still by strenuous thinking, climbing yet further, until Buddhi as it were opens out into Atma, until the Self is seen in his splendour, with only a film of atmic matter, the envelope of Atma in the manifested fivefold world. It is along that difficult and strenuous path that the Self must be found by way of the Self.
Such a man must utterly disregard the Not-Self. He must shut his senses against the outside world. The world must no longer be able to touch him. The senses must be closed against all the vibrations that come from without, and he must turn a deaf ear, a blind eye, to all the allurements of matter, to all the diversity of objects, which make up the universe of the Not-Self. Seclusion will help him, until he is strong enough to close himself against the outer stimuli or allurements. The contemplative orders in the Roman Catholic Church offer a good environment for this path. They put the outer world away, as far away as possible. It is a snare, a temptation, a hindrance.
Always turning away from the world, the Yogi must fix his thought, his attention, upon the Self. Hence for those who walk along this road, what are called the Siddhis are direct obstacles, and not helps. But that statement that you find so often, that the Siddhis are things to be avoided, is far more sweeping than some of our modern Theosophists are apt to imagine. They declare that the Siddhis are to be avoided, but forget that the Indian who says this also avoids the use of the physical senses. He closes physical eyes and ears as hindrances. But some Theosophists urge avoidance of all use of the astral senses and mental senses, but they do not object to the free use of the physical senses, or dream that they are hindrances. Why not? If the senses are obstacles in their finer forms, they are also obstacles in their grosser manifestations.
To the man who would find the Self by the Self, every sense is a hindrance and an obstacle, and there is no logic, no reason, in denouncing the subtler senses only, while forgetting the temptations of the physical senses, impediments as much as the other. No such division exists for the man who tries to understand the universe in which he is. In the search for the Self by the Self, all that is not Self is an obstacle. Your eyes, your ears, everything that puts you into contact with the outer world, is just as much an obstacle as the subtler forms of the same senses which put you into touch with the subtler worlds of matter, which you call astral and mental. This exaggerated fear of the Siddhis is only a passing reaction, not based on understanding but on lack of understanding; and those who denounce the Siddhis should rise to the logical position of the Hindu Yogi, or of the Roman Catholic recluse, who denounces all the senses, and all the objects of the senses, as obstacles in the way.
Many Theosophists here, and more in the West, think that much is gained by acuteness of the physical senses, and of the other faculties in the physical brain; but the moment the senses are acute enough to be astral, or the faculties begin to work in astral matter, they treat them as objects of denunciation. That is not rational. It is not logical. Obstacles, then, are all the senses, whether you call them Siddhis or not, in the search for the Self by turning away from the Not-Self.
It is necessary for the man who seeks the Self by the Self to have the quality which is called “faith,” in the sense in which I defined it before–the profound, intense conviction, that nothing can shake, of the reality of the Self within you. That is the one thing that is worthy to be dignified by the name of faith. Truly it is beyond reason, for not by reason may the Self be known as real. Truly it is not based on argument, for not by reasoning may the Self be discovered. It is the witness of the Self within you to his own supreme reality, and that unshakable conviction, which is shraddha, is necessary for the treading of this path.
It is necessary, because without it the human mind would fail, the human courage would be daunted, the human perseverance would break, with the difficulties of the seeking for the Self. Only that imperious conviction that the Self is, only that can cheer the pilgrim in the darkness that comes down upon him, in the void that he must cross before–the life of the lower being thrown away–the life of the higher is realised. This imperious faith is to the Yogi on this path what experience and knowledge are to the Yogi on the other.