Hindrances to Occult Study


When the shadow hath responded, in meditation deep the work proceedeth. The lower light is thrown upward; the greater light illuminates the three, and the work of the four proceedeth.

Hindrances to Occult Study

This rule is one of the most difficult in the book and yet one of the most comprehensive. It will take us some time rightly to handle it. We have in it an interesting illustration of the microcosmic correspondence to the macrocosm. It can be elucidated in two ways in relation to the light it mentions.

Reference is made to the “greater light” which illuminates the three and, secondly, to the throwing upward of the “lower light”.

The “greater light” is that of the soul, who is light itself illuminating the manifestation of the threefold personality. Herein lies the correspondence to the macrocosm as it is symbolized for us in God, the manifesting light of the solar system. The solar system is three in one, or one in three, and the light of the Logos illuminates the whole. The “lower light” is that which is hidden within the human being on the physical plane. This light, at a certain stage of man’s experience, is awakened throughout the physical body and blends eventually with the “greater light”. The light and life of God Himself may emanate from the central Spiritual Sun, but it is only as the light within the solar system itself is awakened and aroused that there will come that eventual blazing forth which will typify the glory of the sun shining in its strength. Similarly, the light of the soul may emanate from the Monad, but it is only as the light within the little system (directed by the soul) is awakened and aroused that there will come the eventual shining forth of a son of God.

In these instructions, however, we are dealing primarily with the microcosm and the light within it; we shall not enlarge upon the macrocosmic analogies.

In considering this second rule, we must note that a conscious relation has been established between the soul and its shadow, the man on the physical plane. Both have been meditating. Students would do well to note this and to remember that one of the objectives of the daily meditation is to enable the brain and mind to vibrate in unison with the soul as it seeks “in meditation deep” to communicate with its reflection.

The correspondence to this relation, or synchronizing vibration is interesting:

  • • Soul – Man on the Physical Plane
  • • Mind – Brain
  • • Pineal Gland – Pituitary Body

The relation also between the centers, and their synchronization is interesting and in it is epitomized the evolution of the race as well as the racial unit, man.

  • • Head Center – Base of the Spine
  • • Heart Center – Solar Plexus
  • • Throat Center – Sacral Center

In the above lies a hint for the more advanced student (and he is the one who hesitates so to regard himself). It is also symbolized for us in the relation between the Eastern and the Western hemispheres and between those great bodies of truth which we call Religion and Science.

The life of meditation proceeds and the rapport between the soul and its triple instrument becomes steadily closer, and the resulting vibration more powerful. How many lives this will take depends upon various factors, which are too numerous to be mentioned here but which the student will find it useful to consider. Let him list the factors which he feels he needs to take into account as he seeks to decide his evolutionary standpoint.

The result of this response is a reorientation of the lower man in order to produce a synthesis of the Three and the One so that the work of the Four may proceed. Here you have the reflection consummated in the microcosm of that with which the Solar Logos started, the “Sacred Four” of the Cosmos; man in his turn becomes a ” Sacred Four” – spirit and the three of manifestation.

Four words should be pondered upon here:

  1. Communication
  2. Response
  3. Reorientation
  4. Union

The Old Commentary expresses it in the following terms:

“When communion is established, words are forthwith used, and mantric law assumes its rightful place, provided that the One communicates the words and the three remain in silence.

“When response is recognized as emanating from the three, the One, in silence, listens. The roles are changed. A threefold word issues from out the triple form. A turning round is caused. The eyes no longer look upon the world of form; they turn within, focus the light, and see, revealed, an inner world of being. With this the Manas stills itself, for eyes and mind are one.

“The heart no longer beats in tune with low desire, nor wastes its love upon the things that group and hide the Real. It beats with rhythm new; it pours its love upon the Real, and Maya fades away. Kama and heart are close allied; love and desire form one whole – one seen at night, the other in the light of day…

“When fire and love and mind submit themselves, sounding the threefold word, there comes response.

“The One enunciates a word which drowns the triple sound. God speaks. A quivering and a shaking in the form responds. The new stands forth, a man remade; the form rebuilt; the house prepared. The fires unite, and great the light that shines: the three merge with the One and through the blaze a fourfold fire is seen.”

In this pictorial writing which I have sought to convey in modern English, the sages of old embodied an idea. The Old Commentary from which these words are taken has no assignable date. Should I endeavor to tell you its age I have no means of proving the truth of my words and hence would be faced with credulity – a thing aspirants must avoid in their search for the essential and Real. I have sought in the above few phrases to give the gist of what is expressed in the Commentary, through the means of a few symbols and a cryptic text. These old Scriptures are not read in the way modern students read books. They are seen, touched and realized. The meaning is disclosed in a flash. Let me illustrate: – The words “the One enunciates the word which drowns the triple sound” are depicted by a shaft of light ending in a symbolic word in gold superimposed over three symbols in black, rose and green. Thus are the secrets guarded with care.

I felt it might be of interest to students to know this much about this ancient text book of the Adepts.

Our consideration of this rule will fall into two parts: The relation between the soul and the personality. This will be handled particularly with reference to meditation in the daily life, more than from the theoretical and the academical.

The significance of the words, “the lower light is thrown upward.” These deal with the centers and the Kundalini Fire.

I would like here to point out the advisability of each student arriving at an understanding of his etheric body, and this for certain reasons.

  • • First, the etheric body is the next aspect of the world substance to be studied by scientists and investigators. This time will be hastened if thinking men and women can formulate intelligent ideas anent this interesting subject. We can aid in the revelation of the truth by our clear thinking and from the standpoint of the present pronouncements about the ether, scientists will eventually arrive at an understanding of etheric forms or bodies.
  • • Secondly, the etheric body is composed of force currents, and in it are vital centers linked by lines of force with each other and with the nervous system of the physical man. Through these lines of force, it is connected also with the etheric body of the environing system. Note that in this lies the basis for a belief in immortality, for the law of brotherhood or unity and for astrological truth.
  • • Thirdly, the need of realizing that the etheric body is vitalized and controlled by thought and can (through thought) be brought into full functioning activity. This is done by right thinking and not by breathing exercises and holding the nose. When this is grasped, much dangerous practice will be avoided and people will come into a normal and safe control of that most potent instrument, the vital body. That this end may rapidly be consummated is my earnest wish.

Occult study is of profound importance, and students of these sciences must bring to bear upon them, all that they have of mental application and concentrated attention. It involves also the steady working out of the truths learnt.

Occult study, as understood in the Occident, is intellectually investigated but not practically followed. Theoretically some glimmering of light may be appreciated by the man who aspires to the occult path, but the systematic working out of the laws involved has made small progress as yet.

Wherein lies the hindrance? It may be of value if we study three things:

  1. The Occidental hindrances to correct occult study.
  2. How these hindrances may be surmounted.
  3. Certain things the aspirant may safely undertake in the equipping of himself for treading the occult path, for that is the stage, and for the majority, the only stage at present possible.

One of the main hindrances to the correct apprehension of the laws of occultism and their practical application lies in the fact of the comparative newness of the occident, and the rapid changes which have been the outstanding feature of European and American civilization. The history of Europe dates back a bare three thousand years, and that of America, as we know, barely as many centuries. Occultism flourishes in a prepared atmosphere, in a highly magnetized environment, and in a settled condition which is the result of agelong work upon the mental plane.

This is one reason why India provides such an adequate school of endeavor. There knowledge of occultism dates back tens of thousands of years and time has set its mark even upon the physique of the people, providing them with bodies which offer not that resistance which occidental bodies so oft afford. The environment has been long permeated with the strong vibrations of the great Ones who reside within its borders and who, in Their passage to and fro, and through Their proximity, continuously magnetize the environing ether. This in itself affords another line of least resistance, for this etheric magnetization affects the etheric bodies of the contacted population. These two facts, of time and of high vibration, result in that stability of rhythm which facilitates occult work, and offer a quiet field for mantric and ceremonial enterprise.

These conditions are not to be found in the West, where constant change in every branch of life is found, where frequent rapid shifting of the scene of action causes wide areas of disturbance which militate against any work of a magic nature. The amount of force required to effect certain results does not warrant their use, and time has been allowed to elapse in an effort to produce an equilibrizing effect.

The climax of the disturbed condition has been passed, and a more stable state of affairs is gradually being brought about, and this may permit of definite occult work being attempted with success. The Master R. is working upon this problem, and likewise the Master of the English race, – not the Master who occupies Himself with the Labor Movement or the betterment of social conditions. They are aided by a disciple of rare capability in Sweden, and by an initiate in the southern part of Russia, who works much on the mental levels. Their aim is so to tap the resources of force stored up by the Nirmanakayas that its downflow may sweep out lower grade matter, and thus permit the free play of a higher vibration.

Another hindrance may be found in the strong development of the concrete mind. I would here impress upon you that this development must in no way be considered a detriment. All has been in due course of evolution, and later when the Orient and the Occident have reached a point of better understanding and interplay their interaction will be of mutual benefit; the East will profit from the mental stimulation afforded by the strong mental vibration of its Western brother, whilst the Occidental will gain much from the abstract reasoning of the Oriental, and, through the effort to grasp that which the first subrace of the Aryan root race so easily apprehended, he will contact his higher mind, and thus build with greater facility the bridge between the higher and the lower mind. The two types need each other, and their effect upon each other tends to eventual synthesis.

The concrete mind, in itself, offers opportunity for a treatise of great length, but here it will suffice to point out a few of the ways in which it hinders those races who so paramountly represent it.

  1. By its intense activity and stimulated action it hinders the downflow of inspiration from on high. It acts as a dark curtain that shuts out the higher illumination. Only through steadiness and a stable restfulness can that illumination percolate, via the higher bodies, to the physical brain and so be available for practical service.
  2. The wisdom of the Triad exists for the use of the personality, but is barred by the disquisitions of the lower mind. When the fire of mind burns too fiercely, it forms a current which counteracts the higher downflow, and forces the lower fire back into seclusion. Only when the three fires meet, through the regulation of the middle fire of mind, can a full light be achieved, and the whole body be full of light, the fire from above – the triadal light – the fire of the lower self, – kundalini – and the fire of mind, – cosmic manas – must meet upon the altar. In their union comes the burning away of all that hinders and the completed emancipation.
  3. By discrimination – a faculty of the concrete mental body – the lower bodies are trained in the art of distinguishing illusion from the center of reality, the real from the unreal, the self from the not-self. Then ensues, consequently, a period that must be surmounted wherein the attention of the Ego is centered necessarily on the lower self and its vehicles, and wherein, therefore, the vibrations of the Triad, the laws that deal with macrocosmic evolution, and the subjugation of fire for the use of the Divine, have temporarily to be in abeyance. When man quickly sees the truth in all that he contacts, and automatically chooses truth or the real, then he learns next the lesson of joyful action, and the path of bliss opens before him. When this is so, the path of occultism becomes possible for him, for the concrete mind has served its purpose, and has become his instrument and not his master, his interpreter and not his hinderer.
  4. The concrete mind hinders in another and more unusual way, and one that is not realized by the student who attempts, at first, to tread the thorny road of occult development. When the concrete mind is rampant, and dominates the entire personality the aspirant cannot cooperate with these other lives and diverse evolutions until love supersedes concrete mind (even though he may, in theory, comprehend the laws that govern the evolution of the Logoic plan and the development of other solar entities besides his own Hierarchy). Mind separates; love attracts. Mind creates a barrier betwixt a man and every suppliant deva. Love breaks down every barrier, and fuses diverse groups in union. Mind repels by a powerful, strong vibration, casting off all that is contacted, as a wheel casts off all that hinders its whirling periphery. Love gathers all to itself, and carries all on with itself, welding separated units into a unified homogeneous whole. Mind repels through its own abundant heat, scorching and burning aught that approaches it. Love soothes and heals by the similarity of its heat to the heat in that which it contacts, and blends its warmth and flame with the warmth and flame of other evolving lives. Finally, mind disrupts and destroys whilst love produces coherence and heals.

Every change, in human life, is subject to immutable laws, if such a paradoxical statement may be permitted. In the attempt to find out those laws, in order to conform to them, the occultist begins to offset karma, and thus colors not the astral light. The only method whereby these laws can as yet be apprehended by the many who are interested is by a close study of the vicissitudes of daily existence, as spread over a long period of years. By the outstanding features of a cycle of ten years, for instance, as they are contrasted with the preceding or succeeding similar period a student can approximate the trend of affairs and guide himself thereby. When the point in evolution is reached where the student can contrast preceding lives, and gain knowledge of the basic coloring of his previous life cycle, then rapid progress in adjusting the life to law is made. When succeeding lives can be likewise apprehended by the student, and their coloring seen and known, then karma (as known in the three worlds) ceases, and the adept stands master of all causes and effects as they condition and regulate his lower vehicle.

He aspires to the occult path and considers changes and events in the light of all preceding events, and the longer and more accurate his memory the more he can dominate all possible situations.

Thus two of the hindrances will be found to be:

  1. The comparative newness and change which is characteristic of the Occident.
  2. The development of the concrete mind.

Our third hindrance grows out of the preceding one. It consists of the emphasis that has been laid in the West upon the material side of things. This has resulted in a threefold condition of affairs. First, the world of spirit, or the formless abstract world of subjective consciousness is not recognized in a scientific sense. It is recognized innately by those of mystic temperament, and by those who are able to study the subjective history of men and races, but science recognizes not this aspect of manifestation, nor do scientific men, as a whole, believe in a world of super-physical endeavor. All that in the earlier races held paramount place in the lives and thought of the peoples is now approached skeptically, and discussions are preceded by a question mark. But progress has been made and much has arisen out of the war. The question, for instance, is rapidly changing from the formula “Is there a life after death?” to the enquiry “Of what nature is the future life?” and this is a portent of much encouragement.

Secondly, the masses of the people are suffering from suppression and from the effects of inhibition. Science has said, There is no God and no spirit within man. Religion has said, There must be a God, but where may He be found? The masses say, We desire not a God constructed by the brains of theologians. Therefore the true inner comprehension finds no room for expansion, and the activity that should be finding its legitimate expression in the higher aspiration, turns itself to the deification of things, – things pertaining to flesh, connected with the emotions, or having a relation to the mind. The war, again, has accomplished much by relegating things to their just position, and, by the removal of possessions, many have learnt the value of essentials, and the necessity of eliminating that which is superfluous.

A third condition of affairs grows out of the above two. A right apprehension of the future does not exist. When the life of the spirit is negated, when the manifesting life concentrates itself on things concrete and apparent then the true goal of existence disappears, the true incentive to right living is lost, and the sarcastic words of the initiate, Paul, “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die” characterize the attitude of the majority of men.

Men deaden the inner voice that bears witness to the life hereafter, and they drown the words that echo in the silence by the noise and whirl of business, pleasure and excitement.

The whole secret of success in treading the occult path depends upon an attitude of mind; when the attitude is one of concrete materialism, of concentration upon form, and a desire for the things of the present moment, little progress can be made in apprehending the higher esoteric truth.

A fourth hindrance is found in the physical body, which has been built up by the aid of meat and fermented foods and drinks, and nurtured in an environment in which fresh air and sunlight are not paramount factors. I am here generalizing, and speaking for the masses of men, and not for the would-be earnest occult student. For long centuries food that has been decomposing, and hence in a condition of fermentation, has been the basic food of the occidental races; and the result can be seen in bodies unfitted for any strain such as occultism imposes, and which form a barrier to the clear shining forth of the life within. When fresh fruit and vegetables, clear water, nuts and grains, cooked and uncooked, form the sole diet of the evolving sons of men, then will be built bodies fitted to be vehicles for highly evolved Egos. They patiently await the turning of the wheel, and the coming in of a cycle which will permit of their fulfiling their destiny. The time is not yet, and the work of elimination and adjustment must be slow and tedious.

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