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Oct 24, 2005 06:48 PM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck



[THEOSOPHIST Vol. III. Nos. 1, 6 and 12, October, 1881, March and September,
Modern Panarion, p. 466 - 474.]

Part IV

The above probably explains all the features of the particular case referred
to; but to enable us to assert positively in any case that the occurrence
was brought about in this or that way, it is essential that we should be
acquainted with every single detail. So long as we only have the barest
outlines to deal with, all we can pretend to offer are more or less probable


    A critic tells us that even if we explain one or two cases, he still
finds an unbroken line of stubborn facts opposing our explanations, behind
which he is unable to penetrate. We can only promise that if he will furnish
us with accurate details of all cases within his personal knowledge which,
in his opinion, are not explicable by the occult doctrines, we will show him
that they are so explicable or abandon the field.

    But we must lay down two conditions. 

First, we will only accept cases of which he has a complete personal
knowledge; we will not accept cases picked up out of books and papers. Our
critic is a reliable, philosophical observer, from whom we are sure to get
facts carefully observed and accurately recorded. With these we can have no
difficulty in dealing. But as for cases recorded here there and every where,
many are, to our knowledge, pure inventions, while many more, although
recorded in good faith, have been so transformed in the process of
observation and record that it would be hopeless to discuss them.

    Secondly, he must not be surprised if, in the course of our
explanations, all kinds of new facts not hitherto touched on are brought to
notice. The subject is a vast one. There are wheels within wheels, laws
within laws, exceptions to all these. 

Hitherto we have purposely only endeavoured to convey a general conception
of the more important features of the truth. If exact accuracy of detail is
required, every one of our general laws will require certain provisos and
limitations, To detail only what we know in regard to these spiritual
phenomena would occupy several complete numbers of The Theosophist, and if
our [ 466 ] explanation had to include the whole system of elementals—future
men during a coming cycle—and other obscure powers and forces which cannot
even be mentioned, several octavo volumes would be needed to contain it.

    The same critic says:

    If the proof call only be obtained by a practical renunciation ofthe
world, a severance of all human ties, affections and responsibilities, of
what use is it to humanity? Only one in a million may avail themselves of
it, and how many of time remaining nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand,
nine hundred and ninety-nine, would have faith in his testimony.

    We are compelled to point out that he is in error in his premises, and
that his conclusions, even were these premises correct, are untenable. For
even admit that only one in a million would consent to avail themselves of
the opportunity afforded for obtaining proof, would this be any reason for
the remaining nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and
ninety-nine refusing to accept their evidence? Is this so in practice? 

Certainly not! At the present time not more than one in a million (if so
many) are willing to avail themselves of the opportunity of obtaining for
themselves proof of the facts of astronomy. Yet the remainder accept these
facts, perfectly satisfied with the knowledge that anyone who chooses to go
through the necessary training and study can acquire that proof, and that
all who have gone through that training are agreed as to the sufficiency of
the proof.

    Astronomy is a science with the name and general bearing of whichall
fairly educated men are familiar. 

Occultism is a science which has hitherto been veiled in the most profound
secrecy, and of which, so far, none but occultists have possessed any

But once let mankind be familiarized with the idea, let it become known that
any one who chooses to make the necessary sacrifices can obtain the proofs,
and that those who have obtained the proofs consider them conclusive, and
the mass of mankind will be quite content to accept the facts, even on the
testimony of the one in a million who does undertake the verification of the
assertions of his predecessors.

    But our correspondent’s assumptions are erroneous; a practical
renunciation of the world in the sense in which the apostle exhorted all
Christians to be in the world but not of the world is doubtless essential,
but it is by no means requisite to sever all human ties and affections, nor
can it ever be permitted, much less required, to abjure human
responsibilities. These latter may change in character, and [ 467 ] may—
indeed must— with increased knowledge and power, assume a wider reach, and
the affections must broaden and become more cosmopolitan, but it is
self-abnegation, not selfishness, and a devotion to the welfare of others,
that smoothes the path to adeptship.

    Again, as regards the freedom from error claimed for the teachings of
occultism, it is needless to point out the difference between empiricism and
science, and the uninitiated are empiricists, the occultists, scientists. 

This will be obvious at once when it is borne in mind that, for thousands of
years, hundreds of initiates have been exploring the unseen world; that the
results of their explorations have been recorded and collected, and
discrepancies eliminated by fresh verifications; that the facts ascertained
have been generalized, and the laws governing them deduced therefrom, and
the correctness of these deductions verified by experiment. Occultism is,
therefore, in every sense of the word an exact science, while the teachings
of the very ablest untrained seer who has worked single-handed can only be
empiric. [ see S D I 272-3 ]     

When in our first article we said we know (an expression to which a critic,
perhaps rightly, takes objection) we only said this in the sense that,
talking to people ignorant of mathematics, we should say that we know that
the curve described by the moon in space is a form of an epicycloid
represented by such and such an equation—not meaning thereby that we had
ourselves investigated this somewhat abstruse problem, but that we were
aware of the method by which this was solved, and knew that numerous
competent mathematicians had so solved it, and had all arrived at the same

Surely those ignorant alike of mathematics and of the work of mathematician
could by no means as reasonably say in reply, that they knew that the orbit
of the moon was something wholly different it is not our experiences, though
these collectively are considerable, on which we rely, as our critic seems
to fancy. For all we know, his experiences may exceed ours, and, be this as
it may, we should certainly never have presumed to traverse authoritatively
his views on the strength of our own experiences or knowledge. 

What we rely on are the generalized results of the experiences during a vast
period of time of a large body of trained psychists who have ever made the
attainment of truth, in matters spiritual, the foremost object of their
desire, and the promotion, though in secret, of the welfare of mankind their
primary duty.
[ 468 ] 

    And now, having attempted to answer certain objections to our previous
‘‘Fragments,’’ we think it might be well to develop a little further one
doctrine that we broached in our first paper, and explain more in detail why
we are so strongly opposed to habitual mediumism.

    Broadly speaking, the objective phenomena of spiritualists (of
subjective communications we have already spoken) are the work of, or at any
rate result from, the activities or intervention of elementals, half
intelligent nature forces, entities which in a far distant cycle, after
passing through all the lower objective kingdoms will ultimately he born as
men; and elementaries or shells. 

These shells are of two kinds: first, those belonging to men whose sixth and
seventh principles [Buddhi and Atma] having attracted to themselves the
quintessence, as it were, of the fifth [Higher Manas] also, have moved on to
fresh developments. These shells consist of the fourth, and only a portion
of the fifth principles. 

Half or more of the personal memory [Lower Manas] is gone and the more
animal or material instincts [Kama] only survive. This relic, this dross
left behind in the crucible when the refined gold was taken, is commonly the
‘‘angel guide’’ of the average medium. 

Such entities, of course, only survive for a time; gradually all
consciousness departs and they disintegrate. Only highly mediumistic natures
attract these, and only certain of these. The purer the personality the less
their vitality, the shorter their period of survival, and time less the
chance of their contributing to mediumistic displays. The more full of
blemishes, the more disfigured by sins and animal desires, the personality,
the greater the vitality of its reliquiæ the longer their survival, and the
greater the chance of their finding their way into the séance-room. The man,
as a whole, may have been a good man, good may have actively predominated in
him, and yet the worse portions of his nature, his lower and more animal
instincts standing now alone and unneutralized by all the better portions of
his character, may be evil enough.

    It is impossible that any real good can come of intercourse even with
this class of shell; it will not be actively wicked, it is too imperfect and
weak for that, but yet its influence in the long run cannot be elevating.
But, besides this, it is wrong to encourage such shells into activity or
convey to them a fresh impulse such as they often obtain through mediums,
since a strong sympathy continues to subsist between the departed
personality and its reliquiæ, and any excitement of these latter, any
galvanization of them with a fictitious renewed life, such as results from
mediums dealing with them, distinctly disturbs [469] the gestation of the
personality, hinders the evolution of its new Ego-hood, and delays thereby
its entry into the state of felicity (Devachan) in which, in its new
Ego-hood, it reaps the fruits of its good deeds, prior to reincarnation and
rebirth here, if it has not completed its appointed tale of earth-lives, or
in the next superior planet.


    But the other kind of elementary is far more dangerous as a rule to deal
with. In this case the man has been weighed in the balance and found
wanting—his personality has to be blotted out—the fourth and fifth
principles [Kama and Manas] are intact; and more than this, the fifth
[Manas] will have assimilated all that there may he left of personal
recollection and perception of its personal individuality in the sixth

This second class of shell is in every way more enduring, more active, and
in the majority of cases, distinctly wicked. No doubt it can stiffer no
injury from its intercourse with men, but these latter must inevitably
deteriorate in consequence of association with shells of this class.
Fortunately these are not, comparatively speaking, very numerous; of course,
absolutely, there have been millions of millions of such, but, to the credit
of human nature be it said that the personalities that have to be absolutely
blotted out form but a fractional percentage of the whole.

    Moreover, shells of this nature do not remain for any great length of
time in the atmosphere of this earth, but like straws floating near a
whirlpool, get caught up by and dragged down in that terrible maelstrom
which hurries off the failures towards disintegration, to the planet of
matter and death—the mental as well as time physical satellite of our earth!


    As for the elementals, rudimentary men no doubt, but more embryonic even
than the spirit that sleeps in the mineral, these, though capable of
becoming powerful forces in association with shells, under the spells of
sorcerers and under the guidance of adepts, are, as a rule, irresponsible,
purblind, neutral entities, taking moral and mental character and colour
from the active and more developed spiritual entity with or under whose
control they work; but even these, though themselves incapable of being
injured, may become very dangerous to mediums with any inherent evil

    Here then in elementals and elementaries are to he found the majority
probably of the performers of the physical phenomena of spiritualists.
Association with no one of these three classes can possibly benefit mankind
as a whole. The variety of natures is so infinite that we do not assert that
in no case has any human being benefited by intercourse [470] with any
individual specimen of either class. But we do say that, broadly speaking,
nothing but harm can be expected from association with such. Further, in the
case of one of the three classes, mediumistic intercourse inflicts a
distinct injury upon innocent beings.

    But though elementaries and elementals constitute a large proportion of
the performers, there are other classes of actors. We do not pretend—we are
not permitted—to deal exhaustively with the question at present, but we may
refer to one of the most important classes of entities who can participate
in objective phenomena other than elementaries and elementals.


    This class comprises the spirits of conscious sane suicides. Theyare
spirits and not shells, because there is not in their case, at any rate
until later, a total and permanent divorce between the fourth and fifth
principles [Kama and Manas] on the one hand and the sixth and seventh
[Buddhi and Atma] on the other. 

The two are divided, they exist apart, but a line of connection still unites
them, they may yet reunite, and the sorely threatened personality avert its
doom; the fifth principle [Manas] still holds in its hands the clue by
which, traversing the labyrinth of earthly sins and passions, it may regain
the sacred penetralia. But for the time, though really a spirit, and
therefore so designated, it is practically not far removed from a shell.

    This class of spirit can undoubtedly communicate with men, but asa rule
its members have to pay dearly for exercising the privilege, while it is
scarcely possible for them to do otherwise than lower and debase the moral
nature of those with and through whom they have much communication. It is
merely, broadly speaking, a question of degree; of much or little injury
resulting from such communication the cases in which real, permanent good
can arise are too absolutely exceptional to require consideration.

    Understand how the case stands. The unhappy being revolting against the
trials of life—trials, the results of it own former actions, trials,
heaven’s merciful medicine for the mentally and spiritually
diseased—determines, instead of manfully taking arms against a sea of
troubles, to let the curtain drop, and, as it fancies, end them.

    It destroys the body, but finds itself precisely as much alive mentally
as before. It had an appointed life-term determined by an intricate web of
prior causes, which its own willful sudden act cannot shorten. That term
must run out its appointed sands. You may smash the [471] lower half of the
hour-glass so that the impalpable sand shooting from the upper bell is
dissipated by the passing aerial currents as it issues, but that stream will
run on, unnoticed though it remain, until the whole store in that upper
receptacle is exhausted.

    So you may destroy the body, but not the appointed period of sentient
existence, foredoomed, because simply the effect of a plexus of causes, to
intervene before the dissolution of the personality; this must run on for
its appointed period.


    This is so in other cases; for example, those of the victims of accident
or violence—they, too, have to complete their life-term, and of these, too,
we may speak on another occasion; but here it is sufficient to notice that,
whether good or bad, their mental attitude at the time of death alters
wholly their subsequent position. They, too, have to wait on within the
Region of Desires [Kama-Loka] until their wave of life runs on to and
reaches its appointed shore; but they wait on, wrapped in dreams soothing
and blissful or the reverse, according to their mental and moral state at
and prior to the fatal hour, but nearly exempt from further material
temptations, and, broadly speaking, incapable, except just at the moment of
real death, of communicating suo motu with mankind though not wholly beyond
the possibility of reach of the higher forms of the “accursed science,”
necromancy. The question is a profoundly abstruse one. It would be
impossible to explain within the brief space still remaining to us how the
conditions immediately after death in the case of the man who deliberately
lays down (not merely risks) his life from altruistic motives in the hope of
saving those of others, and of him who deliberately sacrifices his life from
selfish motives in the hopes of escaping trials and troubles which loom
before him, differ so entirely as they do. Nature or Providence, Fate or God
being merely a self—adjusting machine, it would at first sight seem as if
the results must be identical in both cases. But machine though it be, we
must remember that it is a machine sui generis:

                                 Out of himself he span
                                Th’ eternal web of right and wrong,
                                  And ever feels the subtlest thrill,
                                The slenderest thread along !

—a machine compared with whose perfect sensitiveness and adjustment the
highest human intellect is but a coarse clumsy replica.

    And we must remember that thoughts and motives are material, and at
times marvellously potent material forces, and we may then begin [472] to
comprehend why the hero sacrificing his life on pure altruistic grounds,
sinks as his life-blood ebbs away into a sweet dream, wherein

                                All that he wishes and all that he loves
                          Come smiling around in sunny way,

only to wake into active or objective consciousness when reborn in the
Region of Happiness, while the poor, unhappy and misguided mortal who,
seeking to elude fate, selfishly loosens the silver string and breaks the
golden bowl, finds himself terribly alive and awake, instinct with all the
evil cravings and desires that embittered his world-life, without a body in
which to gratify them, and capable of only such partial alleviation as is
possible by more or less vicarious gratification, and this only at the risk
of the complete rupture with his sixth and seventh principles, and
consequent ultimate annihilation after prolonged periods of suffering.

    Let it not be supposed that there is no hope for this class—thesane,
deliberate suicide. If, bearing steadfastly his cross, he suffers his
punishment patiently, striving against carnal appetites—still alive in him
in all their intensity, though, of course, each in proportion to the degree
to which it had been indulged in earth-life—if, we say, he bears this
humbly, never allowing himself to be tempted here or there into unlawful
gratifications of unholy desires then, when his fated death—hour strikes,
his four higher principles reunite, and in the final separation that then
ensues all may be well with him, and he may pass on to the gestation period
and its subsequent developments.

    Till the predestined death-knell rings he has his chance; he may wipe
out in suffering and repentance many a sad black score from the page of
Karma, but—and this is the point we desire to impress upon spiritualists—he
may add a hundred fouler ones to the sad blots already damning the record.

    It is not merely for the sake of the mediums, not merely “for the sake
of those that sit at meat with these,” but, above all, for the sake of these
miserable half-lost brothers and sisters that we appeal.

    Suddenly cut short in careers always more or less deeply befouledin all
sane suicides—and we speak only of these, for insane suicides are but
victims—by one of the deadliest sins, rage, hatred, lust or greed, they
awake to find themselves haunted by their besetting sin in all its
intensity. Around them are mediums, many of them throwing themselves open to
what they idly dream to be angel guides. They have but to obsess these only
too willing partners, to share in their evil
[473] gratifications, or collecting out of their aura and loosely coherent
physical organizations, and from even fouler sources, the tombs and
shambles, materials to form a fragile physical organization of their own,
revel with their mediums in all imaginable iniquity. These are the incubi
and succubæ of rnediæval times, these are the “spirit wives” and “husbands”
of modern days, and these, when merely obsessing and not assuming a separate
objective form, are the demons of drunkenness, gluttony, hatred and malice,
the memorials of whose fiendish excesses crowd the sad records alike of the
present and the past.

    Evil to begin with, and separated (though not as yet irrevocably)from
their sixth and seventh principles, and such restraining influence as these
may have insensibly exercised, these spirits too often pass from bad to
worse, develop into true psychic vampires, driving victim after victim to
destruction, inciting to and glorying in, the foulest, the most incredible
crimes, to be swept at last, when the appointed death-hour strikes, on the
flood-tide of their own enormities, far out of the earth’s aura into regions
where annihilation alone drops the curtain on æons of unimaginable misery.

    And many of these, veritable fiends as they become, were not so very,
very had in this life—’’shady lots,” perhaps, in modern phraseology, with
some rebellious, bitter, angry taint in the character which led them to
suicide, but, after all, very far removed from the demons which they
eventually become; and this awful and incredible development devil-wards
which they underwent, though indirectly facilitated by the separation of
their highest principles, was primarily and almost exclusively due to the
temptations, the facilities for the gratification of their worst desires,
held out to them by mediums, recognized as such or not, of the low
physical-manifestation type.

    Alas! for the great hulk of such mediums. Alas! for too many of their
spiritualistic admirers and associates. Little do they dream that two-thirds
of all the most monstrous crimes in the world have their origin in this low
physical mediumistic capacity. Unrecognized as such, hundreds of miserable
mediums perish on the scaffold, declaring, and declaring truly, that they
were egged on to the crimes for which they suffer by a devil, in reality an
obsessing spirit, mostly of this class. In thousands and thousands of cases
the gross sins, drunkenness, gluttony, lewdness, bestiality in all its
forms, which spread desolation to innumerable happy hearths and plunge in
misery and [474 ] 
disgrace countless happy households, are all really traceable to this same
class of spirit, deriving alike the intensity of its evil desires and the
power to do harm, from that fatal capacity for mediumship of the low class
favourable to physical manifestations.

    And this mediumship is a plant that, like a noxious weed, under
encouraging influences, spreads as time runs on. Do the spiritualists who
deal so complacently with, nay, who so greedily run after, these
physical-manifestation mediums, reflect on, or at all realize, what they are
doing? It is not merely that both they themselves and the mediums are
running a fearful risk of moral shipwreck through this intercourse—this can
to a certain extent be guarded against, though it too seldom is, by perfect
purity of word thought and deed; and again the medium may, though this, too,
is rare, be naturally so well-disposed that the obsessing spirit, if not
already rabidly evil, may do little harm; but what is alike beyond control
of medium and his or her supporters is diffusion, as the mediumship is
developed, of mediumistic germs through the âkâshic atmosphere, which,
finding here and there appropriate soils in the weakest and most sensual
natures, will produce later a crop of more degraded mediums, destined
certainly to include many of the vilest sinners, if not several of the
deepest-dyed criminals of the age.

    This form of mediumship is a deadly weed, and so far from being
encouraged into reproduction—and that is what the spiritualists as a body
do—it should be starved out by disuse whenever and wherever it is
recognized. Unfortunately, it will always exist, springing up sporadically
here and there; and, though dwarfed in habit, contributing largely to the
loathsome annals of sin and crime; but it is truly monstrous to aid the
propagation of this curse in all intensified form, by aiding and abetting
the development and function of prominent specimens.

    Let none who do this dream that they can escape the consequences.All
who share in transactions by which sin and misery are multiplied for others
must share the recoil. They may act in ignorance, in good faith, and so
escape the moral taint—the most grievous of the Consequences of evil—but
they can by no means escape the other consequences, and they will have to
brave in coming lives the angry buffets of a retributive justice, which,
though sleeping during the present, never sleeps during a second life.

Modern Panarion, pp. 466 - 474


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