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Thought as a Shield—The Human Aura

From what has been said in the two preceding chapters, the reader will have gathered that the author's attempt has been to point the way from servitude to freedom in individual life by process of self-culture, which must of necessity antedate all successful endeavors to control exterior circumstances. We should never employ plurals until we have grasped clearly the idea of an original singular, and as the singular number is that of the macrocosm and of the microcosm equally, we can only deal with the least as with the greatest in an intelligible manner, by letting go of all plural terms when considering the true method of self-development. Every human being is surrounded with what is commonly called his sphere of influence, which is, properly speaking, his effluence, seeing that it proceeds from him, flowing out from his own interior state before it can possibly proceed to work as an influence when it reaches others. Swedenborg's writings are replete with very clear distinctions between efflux and influx, and were the general reader to study those writings, at least in outline, a great deal of difficulty would be averted in the study of all questions pertaining to psychical research.

The individual human being lives within the circuit of his own atmosphere, precisely as a planet is enwrapped in its peculiar atmospheric blanket. We speculate as to the inhabitants of Mars, and sometimes question whether there are or can be any. Astronomically speaking, the inquiry hinges upon atmosphere; we know the circumference, diameter, period of revolution, distance from the sun, and many other facts concerning our fiery brother; but before we can reach any intelligible conclusion concerning inhabitation, we are obliged to discuss atmosphere or aura. The condition of an orb is revealed in its atmospheric accompaniment, for it develops its own surrounding belt, evolving it in process of ages out of its own constitution.

We have all been delighted with the ideal conceptions of painters who have been ever wont to encircle the heads of saints with a ring of light of varying degrees of intensity, known as halo, nimbus, and aureola. One of the most beautiful among popular religious pictures is "Christ stilling the Tempest," in which the light emitted from the person of the Master lights up the water and streams from his entire person. This exactly agrees with Oriental tradition, and is a strong point with modem theosophists who claim that an adept or hierophant has developed an aura of such extent, quality, and luminosity that it reaches out to a considerable distance, and the greater the spiritual height to which the adept has attained, the brighter and more voluminous the aura.

Scientific students of the relation between color and sound have decided that the seven notes in the musical scale and the seven prismatic hues or colors of the rainbow exactly synchronize. The scale reads: A, red; B, orange; C, yellow; D, green; E, blue; F, indigo; G, violet. The perfect octave of sound corresponds to pure white of dazzling brightness which flashes forth all iridescent hues and opalescent tints. Were a blind person treated by the musical therapeutist intelligibly, he would very likely feel colors psychically so as to intelligibly describe them, though the physical orbs of vision might be entirely sightless balls; the deaf person likewise treated successfully by color suggestion would very likely hear with the inward ear the sounds which are inseparable from those particular vibrations of light which produce respective colors.

We must never forget that there are two selves in every one of us, both good, but sustaining the mutual relation of teacher and pupil, healer and patient, and even master and servant. What is generally spoken of as animal magnetism, is only the effluent radiation from the outer personality which has value on its own ulterior plane, but can go no further than the plane to which it is by its own origin and nature necessarily confined. That which proceeds from the animal self (anima bruta) has a value where it belongs, but those who know of nothing higher are like the physician in Macbeth, who says he cannot minister to a mind diseased, but each man must thus minister to himself, 'which is an expression of ultimate truth, because no "healer" can finally do more than lead his patient into the right path. There is surely a great difference in the mental attitude of one who is always depending upon extraneous aid, and one who is conscious of holding within himself the key to power and happiness.

Health is indispensable for the successful carrying out of any vocation, and success is a word which applies to all trades and professions equally, but it is just as necessary to be strongly fortified and clad in unseen armor in one walk of life as in another. The development of a high order and abundant measure of a uric radiation is the result of keeping a perfect watch over the mental habits which one needs to control. It may not be well to lay down arbitrary rules for self-government, expecting all to follow identically the same outward path; but there are certain searching questions which all should answer faithfully to themselves, not for example—Do I ever smoke a cigar? but, Does tobacco ever control me?—i.e. Do I, feeling it to be a foolish and perhaps pernicious habit, indulge in smoking because of some inherited or acquired appetite which I feel too weak to throw aside? Every habit must be reviewed in some such way, and each must question himself searchingly as to whether he governs habits or whether they rule him. This is a private work of self-examination, and must be dealt with honestly by all who are earnestly seeking to develop around them a protecting armor resulting from noble, fearless, self chosen thought, which will protect them from those unseen adversaries—both disorderly mental states and pathological microbes—which abound on every hand, but which are perfectly innocuous to such as are immune.

The doctrine of aura explains a mystery which everybody endeavors to account for in some partial way, usually by employing good words without defining them, and by alluding to conditions resulting from interior development, but without throwing any light upon the why and the how of this development. People speak glibly of susceptibility and non-susceptibility, just as they talk of imagination and coincidences without attempting to explain what they mean by either.

If one person is susceptible to a disorder, when another can safely bend over the patient and even take his breath with impunity, it simply proves that one of those two persons is much more self-centered than the other, as well as proving that one is in a much healthier condition than the other. It can never be safe for unguarded persons to attend upon the sick who are ill with infectious ailments, therefore all doctors and nurses require heroic mental training to equip them for the arduous duties inseparable from their trying occupations. The physical causes of immunity have been over considered, while the far more important mental causes have been largely neglected when differences between individuals and races have been dealt with by average statisticians. The health of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews (Sephardim) has been for centuries remarkably good, and they are of all people who constitute a factor in modern civilization the most persistently communal in their rigid adhesion to their traditional faith and practice; though adaptable they are not assimilable, and for that very reason they enjoy a privileged immunity from disease which the metaphysician attributes far more to their proud mental conservatism than to the: simply physical side of their excellent sanitary rules.

It does not do to lay too much stress on the merely dietary side of the Law, as mental states have immeasurably more to do with even the diet question than most people suppose. Two persons may strictly observe the same dietary code, and yet one may be healthy and the other a confirmed dyspeptic. One may be singularly safe from contagion, and the other weakly susceptible to every infectious breath, and the cause for this is not difficult to find. Fear prompts many people to abstain from certain foods which they think would disagree with their delicate stomachs, but it is nothing higher than a dread of unpleasant consequences, should they indulge, which prompts their abstinence. Such people are poor weak lings, liable at any time to be placed in most embarrassing conditions, with the alternative before them of either suffering from lack of nourishment or else partaking of what is sure to make them ill. People in this miserable condition spend most of their lives in the narrow strait between Scylla and Charybdis, but not by any means as expert navigators who are in fear of neither rocks nor whirlpools.

The word fear needs redemption, and not until it is restored to its original meaning, reverence, is it safe to employ it without an explanation of what you mean by it if you commend it. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." These grand old words are uttered by many who do not know that in the original to fear is to revere, not to tremble or be afraid. Far better cultivate a spirit of even insolent daring, and beard the lion of his den, than permit yourself to be a victim of that demoralizing terror which impoverishes the blood, keeps the vitality in the system perpetually at the lowest ebb, and so opens the pores to the inroads of pathologic germs that it is unsafe for you to go anywhere, for bacteria are atmospherically omnipresent. The strong, healthy, righteously self-asserting individual not only develops an aura for self-protection, but its radiations act as the only absolute germicide and efficient disinfectant.

Human electro-magnetism destroys disease germs, and so changes the state of the atmosphere that virtue (virtus), strength, life-giving energy, goes forth from the perpetual healer, and disease perishes in his presence through the agency of his spontaneous effluence, even as ice melts through the inevitable action of radiant heat. The mystery of unconscious healing is as easily explained as the influence of the pipe, groves in the relief of sufferers afflicted with pulmonary difficulties. We all know that certain people (and, to a degree, certain animals and plants) carry with them and breathe out a healing radiance; but we are not prepared to say, even in the case of human beings, that all healers really know that they are such. We may be largely unaware of our own condition, but it is an influential condition nevertheless. We must be good-natured, kind-hearted and filled with the general love of being useful to others, before we can give forth a healing elixir; but it is no more necessary for us to know the precise facts in the case, when we spontaneously officiate as healers, than it is for a bird to know the exact effect which its song may be producing upon an unseen listener.

"Physician, heal thyself" are words of universal import applicable on all planes of experience and consciousness; for healing means making whole, and as we are steadily advancing, we can certainly take others with us, and serve as magnets to draw others after us.

The thirty-three degrees of masonry must be taken one by one, and it would be absurd for anyone to expect to take the third degree of Master Mason directly after taking the first of Entered Apprentice, without going through the second of Fellow-craftsman, and so on up through each succeeding degree, till finally the thirty-third is reached. We are not called upon in music to go directly from finger exercises to Wagnerian operas; but it would be foolish to hesitate to explain the scale to a child because as yet we are not capable of rendering a sonata by Beethoven, though we can easily and satisfactorily accompany a simple ballad. There is no greater error into which would-be wiseacres often fall than that of counseling earnest aspirants to wait until they know a great deal more than they have yet mastered before they attempt to do anything to help others. We can all teach as far as we have learned, and the compound name, pupil-teacher, may be applied to all of us.

Though an accurate description of aura is one of those things rarely attempted outside the exclusively theosophic camp, the subject is being investigated today by an ever enlarging public to whom psychical research presents great fascination. There is as much fact as poetry in the old idea of a heaven above and a hell below, because it is a literal fact that all volatile ethers rise, and the purer air is farther than the tainted from the ground. Just as we get extended landscapes and wide horizons from mountain eminences along with bracing, invigorating climate, so is it reasonably maintainable that pure, wide-reaching mental emanations engender corresponding physical influences which reach out far beyond the person of their generator and connect him in all ways with the higher and clearer currents of psychological atmosphere. All disease germs are most abundantly prolific in low-lying districts; that is why people go to the hills to get out of the reach of contagious maladies. The Bible narratives, when read understandingly, are found to be in precise correspondence; therefore we are told in the amazing history of the Wars of Israel, that the Lord protected Israel when fighting on the hillsides and hilltops, but in the valleys the enemy prevailed. Translate this into modern language, drop metaphor and forget history, and what confronts us but the great proposition that we are only safe as we abide in elevated thought-districts, and we must therefore continue above the plane of base emotions if we would be secure from overthrow.

Everything is in affinity with its own kind. Like does attract like, and birds of a feather do flock together; but there are paradoxes in the outworking of this universal law which require deep explanation. A person may have consecrated his life to righteousness; he may be honest in thought, word, and deed, yet there may come into his immediate circle persons whose conduct has long been marked by extreme dishonesty. To account for this phenomenon we must look far below the surface and peer into the inmost motives of the people who are thus strangely drawn to one who seems to be in all respects their exact opposite. The true explanation can only be found in the deep craving for something better in the heart of even the most depraved.

We can never tell who may be led our way or drawn into the circle of our influence, and it is not for us to worry ourselves concerning this; but whoever comes should be welcomed, even though the comer be the greatest scoundrel the earth has ever known. If Christians would study their own gospels and seek to emulate the life of their acknowledged Master, the gift of moral healing would not be at so low an ebb in the Church or in the world outside. It is needless for professed Christians to go to the Vedanta philosophy, when they are in possession of the New Testament, but it is by no means the same to believe a record as to live a life, and it is the faithful life, not the assent of intellect to historic occurrences, which develops or liberates spiritual working energy.

When we hear of successful preachers and others magnetizing their audiences, and when popular tradition seeks to explain the secret of Beecher's or of Gladstone's immense and long-continuing popularity on the score of personal magnetism, the proffered explanation needs explaining. What is this magnetism? may well be asked. Is it a fluid emanation from the body, such as Mesmer and his followers contend for? Is it Odyle, as Birchenbach insisted? It may include all that these eighteenth century psychologists believed in, but it is vastly more than that reputed fluid emanation which a commission appointed by the French Academy of Sciences at one time totally repudiated. But these same men of learning erred greatly when they covered their ignorance of the true nature of a mysterious force by taking refuge in the word imagination. Persons afflicted with various disorders were cured through imagination, according to these savans. Granting that it was so, the truly scientific attitude toward this singularly beneficent action of imagination would have been to study it and make use of it, which is now being done to a large extent in the rapidly advancing practice of Suggestive Therapeutics, which ought not to be confounded with hypnotism as popularly understood. The successful practitioner in a School of Psychology who employs suggestion wisely and benevolently is a man or woman of super-ordinary attainments intellectually, in that in addition to knowing theoretically what many learned people know just as thoroughly, he or she has undergone a systematic course of self-training resulting in the development of a more than usually powerful and expansive aura.

It is at this point that we note the great success attending the practice of suggestion when practiced by some people, while it is almost an entire failure when attempted by others who have an equal disposition to make fair trial of it. To control one's thought is always the prime requisite; our thought is properly our servant. The more we succeed in controlling what we are accustomed to call wayward or wandering thoughts, the greater becomes our manifest control over outward things. It is a fallacy to suppose that the harder we work the greater will be the results of our effort; the truth is that the more wisely and scientifically we work the larger and speedier will be our manifest success in the government of circumstances. There is boundless philosophy in the old words, "The wise man rules his stars"; and so he does, whatever truth there may or may not be in astrology. The planets are in certain conditions, the wind is blowing at a certain rate of speed and from a certain quarter: these are ascertainable facts, to deny which would be folly; but the wise man in the midst of outside elements is lord over inside elements which are of the same nature as those without. A scientific study of the Gospels makes every so-called miracle a thoroughly credible occurrence, as, for instance, the story of the storm on the lake, when the Master was peacefully sleeping through the gale, and the terrified disciples found him a very sound sleeper when they wished to awaken him. The moral is that only the one that could not be distressed by the tempest could quell the tempest, and he who quelled it is always pictured as surrounded by a bright, far-reaching luminous aura which shone forth into the darkness and transformed in his vicinity midnight into morning.

Beginning with outside conditions is always commencing at the wrong end, because we must serve an interior or spiritual apprenticeship in Nature's workshop before we can go out into the exterior world and dominate the things around us. There are clearly two sides of the question of environment. Herbert Spencer is right in counseling his readers to harmonize themselves with their environment, but having done that we can go farther forward and shape circumstances to our own liking. There is a great deal of meaning in the old saying, "Nothing succeeds like success," but how are we to get the first installment of success, how procure the foundations for the prosperity we expect to establish on a firm foundation? The only wise counsel is to recommend the man or woman or the boy or girl who determines to achieve outward success to pay good heed to the tenth commandment, for just so long as any one is looking outside of his own domain and wishing that some one's else possessions had fallen to his lot, he dissipates his own energy and through covetousness shrivels inwardly, when conscious strength within is necessary to build the condition of the individual who becomes a magnet to draw to him all that is rightfully his own.

Every great invention and discovery is in line with pure philanthropy, for he who discovers and invents finds a way to extract treasure from the earth, rendering available for the use of multitudes what formerly has been unclaimed by any. True sociology is pure mutualism. All orderly human relations are interdependent, and because this is so no one can become righteously wealthy without contributing to the enrichment of others also. Confucius gave a maxim to the effect that whoever lived righteously would assuredly have neighbors, which really means that he who sets a good example and exerts a gracious influence will find how true is the revised proverb, "One white sheep makes many." We see on every hand followers of bad fashion; let us then set good fashions, and others will adopt them to benefit instead of injury. It is quite useless to attempt to influence society to any considerable extent, unless you firmly and fully acknowledge your own powers; not power over others to coerce them, but power in yourself to shed light on the path which those around you are travelling. We want no proselytizers, but we need propagandists, and there is a wide difference between the two. The true propagandist is one who is something, and whose light of life so shines around that people cannot do otherwise than feel the radiance of such a life. It is first the silent influence that makes its way in all cases, the something we feel but cannot adequately describe in speech. The man himself, the woman herself, the personal equation, this is what really tells most powerfully, and without this force behind, the most eloquent speeches fall ineffective upon uninfluenced listeners. We cannot criticize mere style, we ignore eccentric mannerism, we even overlook defective grammar in such instances; so eager are we to catch the thought that we care little for the outward drapery. It is as though a dear friend came to visit us; in our joy at welcoming the beloved guest we should not pause to review the friend's costume. History tells of the poor raiment worn by Socrates; but the crowds who hung upon his instructions cared nothing for his bodily attire; for they felt the radiance of his spirit, and it drew them and held them by a magnetism peculiarly its own.

Such a man as the celebrated evangelist, Moody, owed his marvelous success wherever he went in one hemisphere or another, not to any remarkable doctrine he preached, for he preached the commonplace of Christian evangelism, but to his intense conviction that he had a message to deliver, and that people were ready, willing, yea, waiting, to receive the message from his lips. We cannot remember the remarkable career of Charles Spurgeon without contemplating a most notable instance of the same conviction, for Spurgeon taught nothing different from many other able Baptist ministers. There is no great work to be done by anyone who is diffident and apologetic; no one can run a great business or build up a profession on the sandy foundation of uncertainty or doubt. Doubt is close of kin to dread of failure, which is the greatest of all depolarizers. We are very much deluded if we imagine that people do not feel our mental condition when we approach them; they may not know it in the sense of having logically reasoned it out, but they are inwardly aware of it; and it is not too much to say that with a decided increase of sensitiveness among people in general, the influence of silent thought in determining the success or failure of any projected enterprise will be manifestly much greater in the future than in the past. The mental therapeutist will have to look less to his theories and more to his interior conditions, and the same remark equally applies to all teachers and practitioners of all schools of thought and practice.

It is surely reasonable to undertake to be something, then do something. Telepathy, thought-transference, mental telegraphy, psychometry, and all such words and phrases as are rapidly oozing out of the "Proceedings of the Psychical Research Society," into the vocabulary of the general populace, are untranslatable and unintelligible until we know something of the power of that outreaching human aura which develops spontaneously with people who live strongly on their inner side. What can be the significance of the strange revivals of long-discarded cults, together with a passion for everything "psychical," which has taken hold of the people everywhere? The only answers to these inquiries is to be found in the investigating and awakening spirit of the times, which insists upon probing mysteries to their inmost.

There are dangers on every hand for the frivolous, the flippant, and the unwary, but all studies are safe for those who make Truth Itself the one supreme object of their quest. We link ourselves psychically with whatever we love most and think most about. We need not go to India or to Egypt, or even outside our own chambers, to receive illumination, for it is not material journeyings but inward receptivity and enlightenment which brings us into vitalizing contact with all that we truly desire and need to know.

Out of a babel of conflicting voices and a seething medley of conflicting creeds will assuredly come forth, like gold from the alchemist's crucible, the simple universal religion of humanity. "Long sought without but found within" will be the watch cry of the new-born cycle. The very conflict of opinions without, the impossibility of reconciling diametrically opposed beliefs, will have but the eventual effect of leading all honest truth-seekers to the light within, until each human being will find "the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are," to be a verifiable truism. The more we fail when we attempt to work from without inward, the sooner we shall learn to harmonize with all Nature's divine operations and seek to evolve from within outward. In all difficulties let us consult the oracle within, and we shall increasingly prove the truth of the magnificent saying, "In quietness and confidence shall be your strength."

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William Juvenal Colville

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