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Jan 01, 2003 07:32 AM
by Steve Stubbs " <>

HPB claimed to have been "initiated" into certain yoga practices 
which were never described in detail. Her "clairvoyance" was develop 
using mirror gazing exercises, probably based on Randolph's book 
SEERSHIP. But there are other exercises which are referred to in an 
article she wrote entitled "Practical Occultism." The article gives 
an inaccurate description of the system referred to, but the 
exercises can be identified, nonetheless. This identification is 
less iffy than the identification of the worldly identity of the 
masters, and I have never seen this information published anywhere, 
so list historians take note. This seemingly lifts another 
historical veil.

The following is a part of the "Practical Occultism" article:

"A page is given from the 'private rules,' with which every 
instructor in the East is furnished. The few passages which follow 
are chosen from a great number and explained in brackets."

"The place selected for receiving instruction must be a spot 
calculated not to distract the mind, and filled with 'influence-
evolving' (magnetic) objects. The five sacred colours gathered in a 
circle must be there among other things. The place must be free from 
any malignant influences hanging about in the air. "

"[The place must be set apart, and used for no other purpose. The 
five 'sacred colours' are the prismatic hues arranged in a certain 
way, as these colours are very magnetic. By 'malignant influences' 
are meant any disturbances through strife, quarrels, bad feelings, 
etc., as these are said to impress themselves immediately on the 
astral light, i.e., in the atmosphere of the place, and to 
hang 'about in the air.' This first condition seems easy enough to 
accomplish, yet??on further consideration, it is one of the most 
difficult ones to obtain.]"

That passage is not completely accurate, but it can easily be 
recognized as a description of the "kasina" meditation in 
Buddhaghosa's book VISUDDHIMAGGA. The five colors are not arranged 
in a circle, but there are five circles of different colors. There 
are also elemental "kasinas" in which one concentrates upon 
the "elements" (earth, air, water, etc.) There is also an endless 
description of the proper place to do the meditation, etc., all of 
which can be recognized in the above passage.

The purpose of this is to somehow lead one to enlightenment, but 
claims have been made that working with the elemental kasinas also 
lead to certain unusual mental abilities. Such claims are made in 
the PATISAMBHIDA, which is translated and published in part by Conze 
in his BUDDHIST SCRIPTURES, and claims by modern practitioners 
regarding results they have got can be found in Kornfield's LIVING 
BUDDHIST MASTERS. The VISUDDHIMAGGA can also be found referenced by 
Olcott in his BUDDHIST CATECHISM. It has been translated into 
English and published in various editions under the names PATH OF 

So if Blavatsky's claims that she was initiated into and practiced 
some form of yoga are true (i.e., if she did not merely analyze the 
subject intellectually as her modern followers do) this is one of the 
sources from which the practice she followed can be found. Whether 
she was in fact a practitioner or a theorizer is yet unclear. If the 
stories told about her are true, they constitute a prima facie case 
that she was a practitioner. It is clear that she was familiar with 
yoga techniques whether she used them or not. Piecing together how 
her "phenomena" were done and determining if anyone else ever got a 
similar result with similar methods is useful in solving the 
historical problem of whether or not the phenomena were real.

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