Milestones in a Psychic Pilgrimage
Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up if thou wilt ever dig. —Marcus Aurelius.
In the usual reaction which follows a new and radical discovery of truth, the first impulse of the student is to distrust all that he has previously accepted, and commit himself ardently to the school which claims him as a disciple. In the end he too often finds that he has simply changed his label or entrenched himself in a new position which he is pledged to defend.
The truth-seeker should be a traveler, carrying very little baggage, trusting for his supplies to the resources of the country through which he journeys. If he become merely the disciple of a "cause" and the champion of a "theory," he will inevitably find himself so engrossed with personalities that he cannot make much progress in the field of discovery.
Let us trace the usual course of the "investigator" of psychic forces.
Our pilgrim starts perhaps from the church. There he has been taught the theories of special creation, human limitations, and the "scheme of redemption," in which his chief responsibility is an act of faith.
He becomes interested in the discovery of spiritual forces and intelligences, which revolutionize his philosophy of life with all his former views of earth and heaven. His first step forward brings him into the mysteries of hypnotism. Here he receives a lesson in the possibilities of mind control through a subtle force which dominates heart and conscience, and like electricity sets at defiance time and distance, those two most important factors on the lower planes of life.
From the study of hypnotism he passes quickly to that of spiritualism.
He now obtains evidence of continued existence which science and theology have failed to reveal to him. He discovers at the same time that the conditions of that existence differ widely from all the ideas in which he has been instructed. In place of fixed states of happiness or misery, he learns that life means progress, and that every thought and every word and act has its legitimate and inevitable consequence which is neither "reward" nor "punishment," and which is itself capable of being changed by bringing new causes into operation.
He discovers also the possibility of supplementing his human intelligence with that of better informed and sympathetic friends in the unseen.
Here he encounters a real danger. In hypnotism he has been tempted by the power of dominating other minds at the sacrifice of their individual freedom. In spiritualism he endangers his own liberty by an unreasonable submission to minds that have dropped their mortal bodies. He has entered the realm of psychism. For a personal God he has substituted personal Will and the inexorable "Law." The belief in a personal Devil has given place to a fear of obsessing spirits, malicious magnetism, and elementaries. It is only a few days' journey beyond materialism. In the prayer meetings of the church he has been taught to throw his responsibilities upon Jesus as a Savior. He now exchanges the prayer meeting for the séance room, and is in danger of throwing his responsibilities upon the "spirits." He learns that Jesus was a "medium," and he himself, perhaps, sits for development as a "sensitive."
After an experience of negative suffering, he seeks for higher thought in Occult Science and Theosophy. He discovers that the secret of spiritual power lies in the development of his own soul forces and in the realm of the positive.
From the séance room he passes into the occult circle. The "spirits" he now exchanges for the "masters" who also dwell in the unseen, though the Himalayas do not seem so remote to him as the spiritual spheres. Again he learns a new alphabet and new shibboleths, and is taught that Jesus was a "Hierophant."
Our pilgrim has travelled a long journey to discover that "the kingdom of heaven is within." Here he finds his true spiritual center and reaches the place of wells—"Beersheba." He has successively passed the milestones of ecclesiasticism, materialism, and psychism, and arrived at last at the borderland of higher spiritualism. He has come from the colder north to the sunnier south of his Holy Land, to find in himself the "well of water springing up unto everlasting life." He has discovered the meaning of the words: "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of Life."
Henceforth that Light is the glad star of his spiritual pilgrimage. "The Star which they saw in the East."
A spirit of controversy is not favorable to spiritual progress. We must at least accept a proposition as a working hypothesis, assuming it to be true, pending its demonstration or disproval. An unreasonable denial is as illogical as baseless assertion. An unfriendly attitude is not possible to the truly scientific mind. Such is not the attitude of the student in chemistry working in his laboratory, or of the mechanic in his workshop. Starting from a point of indifference, without prejudice, each of them seeks only to discover the law which governs in chemistry or mechanics. In mental science a principle begins to demonstrate itself at the very moment it is recognized, for then the student has committed himself to its action. Recognition is acceptance, and the harmonies of truth inevitably follow.