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Nov 17, 2005 05:32 PM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck

as a continuation of study and thought 

Nov 17 2005


Dear Friends:

Following a note on LANGUAGE AND MEANING these notes taken from "The
CULTURE OF CONCENTRATION " by W Q Judge lend additional depth to the views
of THEOSOPHY on mind, thinking and idealism.

Best wishes,




The term most generally in use to express what is included under the above
title is SELF CULTURE. Now it seems to well enough express, for a time at
least, the practice referred to by those who desire to know the truth. But,
in fact, it is inaccurate from a theosophic standpoint.

For the Self is held to be that designated in the Indian books as Ishwara,
which is a portion of the Eternal SPIRIT enshrined in each human body. That
this is the Indian view there is no doubt. The Bhagavad-Gita in Chapter 15
says that an eternal portion of this Spirit,

"...having assumed life in this world of life, attracts the heart and the
five senses which belong to nature.

Whatever body Ishwara enters or quits, it is connected with it by snatching
those senses from nature, even as the breeze snatches perfumes from their
very bed. This spirit approaches the objects of sense by presiding over the
ear, the eye, the touch, the taste, and the smell, and also over the heart,"

and in an earlier chapter, "the Supreme Spirit within this body is called
the Spectator and Admonisher, sustainer, enjoyer, Great Lord, and also
Highest Soul," and again, "the Supreme Eternal Soul, even when existing
within -- or connected with -- the body, is not polluted by the actions of
the body."

Elsewhere in these books this same spirit is called the SELF, as in a
celebrated sentence which in Sanscrit is "Atmanam atmana, pashya," meaning,
"Raise the self by the Self," and all through the Upanishads, where the Self
is constantly spoken of as the same as the Ishwara of Bhagavad-Gita. Max
Muller thinks the word "Self" expresses best in English the ideas of the
Upanishads on this head.

It therefore follows that such a thing as culture of this Self, which in
its very nature is eternal, unchangeable, and unpollutable by any action,
cannot be. It is only from inadequacy of terms that students and writers
using the English tongue are compelled to say "Self Culture," while, when
they say it, they admit that they know the Self cannot be cultured.

What they wish to express is, "such culture or practice to be pursued by us
as shall enable us, while on earth, to mirror forth the wisdom and fulfill
the behests of the Self within, which is all wise and all good."

As the use of this term "Self Culture" demands a constant explanation
either outwardly declared or inwardly assented to, it is wise to discard it
altogether and substitute that which will express the practice aimed at
without raising a contradiction.

For another reason also the term should be discarded. That is, that it
assumes a certain degree of selfishness, for, if we use it as referring to
something that we do only for ourself, we separate ourselves at once from
the rest of the human brotherhood. Only in one way can we use it without
contradiction or without explanation, and that is by admitting we selfishly
desire to cultivate ourselves, thus at once running against a prime rule in
theosophic life and one so often and so strenuously insisted on, that: " the
idea of personal self must be uprooted."

Of course, as we will not negative this rule, we thus again have brought
before us the necessity for a term that does not arouse contradictions. That
new term should, as nearly as possible, shadow forth the three essential
things in the action, that is, the instrument, the act, and the agent, as
well as: 1. the incitement to action; or, knowledge itself, 2. the thing
to be known or done, and 3. the person who knows.


In the Indian books it is called Yoga. This is translated also as Union,
meaning a union with the Supreme Being, or, as it is otherwise put, "the
object of spiritual knowledge is the Supreme Being."

There are two great divisions of Yoga found in the ancient books, and they
are called Hatha-Yoga and Raj-Yoga. 

Hatha-Yoga is a practical mortification of the BODY by means of which
certain powers are developed. It consists in the assumption of certain
postures that aid the work, and certain kinds of breathing that bring on
changes in the system, together with other devices. It is referred to in
the 4th chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita thus:

"Some devotees sacrifice the sense of hearing and the other senses in the
fires of restraint; some offer objects of sense, such as sound, in the fires
of the senses. Some also sacrifice inspiration of breath in expiration, and
expiration in inspiration, by blocking up the channels of inspiration and
expiration, desirous of retaining their breath. Others, by abstaining from
food, sacrifice life in their life."

In various treatises these methods are set forth in detail, and there is no
doubt at all that by pursuing them one can gain possession of sundry
abnormal powers. There is risk, however, especially in the case of people in
the West where experienced gurus or teachers of these things are not found. 

These risks consist in this, that while an undirected person is doing
according to the rules of Hatha-Yoga, he arouses about him influences that
do him harm, and he also carries his natural functions to certain states now
and then when he ought to stop for a while, but, having no knowledge of the
matter, may go on beyond that and produce injurious effects.

Then, again, Hatha-Yoga is a difficult thing to pursue, and one that must be
pushed to the point of mastery and success. Few of our Western people are by
nature fitted for such continuous and difficult labor on the mental and
astral planes. Thus, being attracted to Hatha-Yoga by the novelty of it, and
by the apparent pay that it offers in visible physical results, they begin
without knowledge of the difficulty, and stopping after a period of trial
they bring down upon themselves consequences that are wholly undesirable.

The greatest objection to it, however, is that it pertains to the material
and semi-material man, roughly speaking, to the body, and what is gained
through it is lost at death. The Bhagavad Gita refers to this and describes
what happens in these words:

"All of these, indeed, being versed in sacrifice, have their sins destroyed
by these sacrifices. But he alone reaches union with the Supreme being who
eats of the ambrosia left from a sacrifice."

This means that the Hatha-Yoga practice represents the mere sacrifice
itself, whereas the other kind is the ambrosia arising from the sacrifice,
or "the perfection of spiritual cultivation," and that leads to Nirvana. The
means for attaining the "perfection of spiritual cultivation" are found in
Raj-Yoga, or, as we shall term it for the present, Culture of Concentration.

When concentration is perfected, we are in a position to use the knowledge
that is ever within reach but which ordinarily eludes us continually. That
which is usually called knowledge is only an intellectual comprehension of
the outside, visible forms assumed by certain realities.

Take what is called scientific knowledge of minerals and metals. 

This is merely a classification of material phenomena and an empirical
acquisition. It knows what certain minerals and metals are useful for, and
what some of their properties are. Gold is known to be pure, soft, yellow,
and extremely ductile, and by a series of accidents it has been discovered
to be useful in medicine and the arts. But even to this day there is a
controversy, not wholly settled, as to whether gold is held mechanically or
chemically in crude ore. Similarly with minerals. The crystalline forms are
known and classified.

And yet a new theory has arisen, coming very near to the truth, that we do
not know matter in reality in this way, but only apprehend certain phenomena
presented to us by matter, and variously called, as the phenomena alter,
gold, wood, iron, stone, and so on. But whether the minerals, metals, and
vegetables have further properties that are only to be apprehended by still
other and undeveloped senses, science will not admit.

Passing from inanimate objects to the men and women about us, this ordinary
intellectual knowledge aids us no more than before. We see bodies with
different names and of different races, but below the outer phenomena our
everyday intellect will not carry us.

This man we suppose to have a certain character assigned to him after
experience of his conduct, but it is still only provisional, for none of us
is ready to say that we know him either in his good or his bad qualities. We
know there is more to him than we can see or reason about, but what, we
cannot tell. It eludes us continually. And when we turn to contemplate
ourselves, we are just as ignorant as we are about our fellow man. Out of
this has arisen an old saying: "Every man knows what he is, but no one knows
what he will be."

There must be in us a power of discernment, the cultivation of which will
enable us to know whatever is desired to be known. That there is such a
power is affirmed by teachers of occultism, and the way to acquire it is by
cultivating concentration.

It is generally overlooked, or not believed, that the inner man who is the
one to have these powers has to grow up to maturity, just as the body has to
mature before its organs fulfill their functions fully. 

By inner man I do not mean the higher self-the Ishwara before spoken of, but
that part of us which is called soul, or astral man, or vehicle, and so on.
All these terms are subject to correction, and should not be held rigidly to
the meanings given by various writers. Let us premise, first, the body now
visible; second, the inner man -
not the spirit; and third, the spirit itself.


Now while it is quite true that the second -- or inner man -- has latent all
the powers and peculiarities ascribed to the astral body, it is equally true
that those powers are, in the generality of persons, still latent or only
very partially developed.

This inner being is, so to say, inextricably entangled in the body, cell for
cell and fibre for fibre. He exists in the body somewhat in the way the
fibre of the mango fruit exists in the mango. In that fruit we have the
inside nut with thousands of fine fibres spreading out from it through the
yellow pulp around. And as you eat it, there is great difficulty in
distinguishing the pulp from the fibre. So that the inner being of which we
are speaking cannot do much when away from his body, and is always
influenced by it.

It is not therefore easy to leave the body at will and roam about in the
double. The stories we hear of this as being so easily done may be put down
to strong imagination, vanity, or other causes. One great cause for error in
respect to these doubles is that a clairvoyant is quite likely to mistake a
mere picture of the person's thought for the person himself.

In fact, among occultists who know the truth, the stepping out of the body
at will and moving about the world is regarded as a most difficult feat, and
for the reasons above hinted at. Inasmuch as the person is so interwoven
with his body, it is absolutely necessary, before he can take his astral
form about the country, for him to first carefully extract it, fibre by
fibre, from the surrounding pulp of blood, bones, mucous,
bile, skin, and flesh. Is this easy? It is neither easy nor quick of
accomplishment, nor all done at one operation. It has to be the result of
years of careful training and numerous experiments.

And it cannot be consciously done until the inner man has developed and
cohered into something more than irresponsible and quivering jelly. This
development and coherence are gained by perfecting the power of

Nor is it true, as the matter has been presented to me by experiment and
teaching, that even in our sleep we go rushing about the country seeing our
friends and enemies or tasting earthly joys at distant points. In all cases
where the man has acquired some amount of concentration, it is quite
possible that the sleeping body is deserted altogether, but such cases are
as yet not in the majority.

Most of us remain quite close to our slumbering forms. It is not necessary
for us to go away in order to experience the different states of
consciousness which is the privilege of every man, but we do not go away
over miles of country until we are able, and we cannot be able until the
necessary ethereal body has been acquired and has learned how to use its


Now, this ethereal body has its own organs which are the essence or real
basis of the senses described by men. The outer eye is only the instrument
by which the real power of sight experiences that which relates to sight;
the ear has its inner master - the power of hearing, and so on with every

These real powers within flow from the spirit to which we referred at the
beginning of this paper. That spirit approaches the objects of sense by
presiding over the different organs of sense. And whenever it withdraws
itself the organs cannot be used. As when a sleep--walker moves about with
open eyes which do not see anything, although objects are there and the
different parts of the eye are perfectly normal and uninjured.

Ordinarily there is no demarcation to be observed between these inner organs
and the outer; the inner ear is found to be too closely interknit with the
outer to be distinguished apart. But when concentration has begun, the
different inner organs begin to awake, as it were, and to separate
themselves from the chains of their bodily counterparts. 

Thus the man begins to duplicate his powers. His bodily organs are not
injured, but remain for use upon the plane to which they belong, and he is
acquiring another set which he can use apart from the others in the plane of
nature peculiarly theirs.

We find here and there cases where certain parts of this inner body have
been by some means developed beyond the rest. Sometimes the inner head alone
is developed, and we have one who can see or hear clairvoyantly or
clairaudiently; again, only a hand is developed apart from the rest, all the
other being nebulous and wavering. It may be a right hand, and it will
enable the owner to have certain experiences that belong to the plane of
nature to which the right hand belongs, say the positive side of touch and

But in these abnormal cases there are always wanting the results of
concentration. They have merely protruded one portion, just as a lobster
extrudes his eye on the end of the structure which carries it. Or take one
who has thus curiously developed one of the inner eyes, say the left. 

This has a relation to a plane of nature quite different from that
appertaining to the hand, and the results in experience are just as diverse.
He will be a clairvoyant of a certain order, only able to recognize that
which relates to his one-sided development, and completely ignorant of many
other qualities inherent in the thing seen or felt, because the proper
organs needed to perceive them have had no development. He will be like a
two-dimensional being who cannot possibly know that which three-dimensional
beings know, or like ourselves as compared with four-dimensional entities.

In the course of the growth of this ethereal body several things are to be

It begins by having a cloudy, wavering appearance, with certain centres of
energy caused by the incipiency of organs that correspond to the brain,
heart, lungs, spleen, liver, and so on. It follows the same course of
development as a solar system, and is, in fact, governed and influenced by
the very solar system to which the world belongs on which the being may be

With us it is governed by our own solar orb. If the practice of
concentration be kept up, this cloudy mass begins to gain coherence and to
shape itself into a body with different organs. As they grow they must be
used. Essays are to be made with them, trials, experiments. In fact, just as
a child must creep before it can walk, and must learn walking before it can
run, so this ethereal man must do the same. But as the child can see and
hear much farther than it can creep or walk, so this being usually begins to
see and to hear before it can leave the vicinity of the body on any lengthy


Certain hindrances then begin to manifest themselves which, when properly
understood by us, will give us good substantial reasons for the practicing
of the several virtues enjoined in holy books and naturally included under
the term of Universal Brotherhood. 


One is that sometimes it is seen that this nebulous forming body is
violently shaken, or pulled apart, or burst into fragments that at once have
a tendency to fly back into the body and take on the same entanglement that
we spoke of at first. This is caused by anger, and this is why the sages all
dwell upon the need of calmness. 

When the student allows anger to arise, the influence of it is at once felt
by the ethereal body, and manifests itself in an uncontrollable trembling
which begins at the centre and violently pulls apart the hitherto coherent
particles. If allowed to go on it will disintegrate the whole mass, which
will then reassume its natural place in the body. The effect following this
is, that a long time has to elapse before the ethereal body can be again
created. And each time this happens the result is the same. Nor does it make
any difference what the cause for the anger may be. There is no such thing
as having what is called "righteous anger" in this study and escaping these
inevitable consequences. Whether your "rights" have been unjustly and
flagrantly invaded or not does not matter. The anger is a force that will
work itself out in its appointed way. Therefore anger must be strictly
avoided, and it cannot be avoided unless charity and love -- absolute
toleration -- are cultivated.


But anger may be absent and yet still another thing happen. The ethereal
form may have assumed quite a coherence and definiteness. But it is observed
that, instead of being pure and clear and fresh, it begins to take on a
cloudy and disagreeable color, the precursor of putrefaction, which invades
every part and by its effects precludes any further progress, and at last
reacts upon the student so that anger again manifests itself. This is the
effect of envy. 

Envy is not a mere trifle that produces no physical result. It has a
powerful action, as strong in its own field as that of anger. It not only
hinders the further development, but
attracts to the student's vicinity thousands of malevolent beings of all
classes that precipitate themselves upon him and wake up or bring on every
evil passion. Envy, therefore, must be extirpated, and it cannot be got rid
of as long as the personal idea is allowed to remain in us.


Another effect is produced on this ethereal body by vanity. Vanity
represents the great illusion of nature.

It brings up before the soul all sorts of erroneous or evil pictures, or
both, and drags the judgment so away that once more anger or envy will
enter, or such course be pursued that violent destruction by outside causes
falls upon the being. As in one case related to me. 

The man had made considerable progress, but at last allowed vanity to rule.
This was followed by the presentation to his inner sight of most
extraordinary images and ideas, which in their turn so affected him that he
attracted to his sphere hordes of elementals seldom known to students and
quite indescribable in English. These at last, as is their nature, laid
siege to him, and one day produced all about the plane of his astral body an
effect similar in some respects to that which follows an explosion of the
most powerful explosive known to science. The consequence was, his ethereal
form was so suddenly fractured that by repercussion the whole nature of the
man was altered, and he soon died in a madhouse after having committed the
most awful excesses.

And vanity cannot be avoided except by studiously cultivating that
selflessness and poverty of heart advised as well by Jesus of Nazareth as by


Another hindrance is fear. This is not, however, the worst of all, and is
one that will disappear by means of knowledge, for fear is always the son of
ignorance. Its effect on the ethereal form is to shrivel it up, or coagulate
and contract it. But as knowledge increases, that contraction abates,
permitting the person to expand. Fear is the same thing as frigidity on the
earth, and always proceeds by the process of freezing.

In my next the subject will be further developed. 


IT is now over one year since I sent in Part I to the Editor of the PATH.
Since then I have heard that some students expressed a desire to read Part
II, forgetting to observe, perhaps, that the first paper was complete in
itself, and, if studied, with earnest practice to follow, would have led to
beneficial results. 

It has not been necessary before to write No. II; and to the various
students who so soon after reading the first have asked for the second I
plainly say that you have been led away because a sequel was indicated and
you cannot have studied the first; furthermore I much doubt if you will be
benefited by this any more than by the other.


Success in the culture of concentration is not for him who sporadically
attempts it. It is a thing that flows from "a firm position assumed with
regard to the end in view, and unremittingly kept up." .students are too apt
to think that success in occultism can be reached as one attains success in
school or college, by reading and learning printed words. 

A complete knowledge of all that was ever written upon concentration will
confer no power in the practice of that about which I treat. Mere book
knowledge is derided in this school as much as it is by the clodhopper; not
that I think book knowledge is to be avoided, but that sort of acquisition
without the concentration is as useless as faith without works. It is called
in some places, I believe, "mere eye-knowledge." Such indeed it is; and such
is the sort of culture most respected in these degenerate times.


In starting these papers the true practice was called Raj Yoga. It discards
those physical motions, postures, and recipes relating solely to the present
personality, and directs the student to virtue and altruism as the bases
from which to start. This is more often rejected than accepted. 

So much has been said during the last 1800 years about Rosicrucians,
Egyptian Adepts, Secret Masters, Kaballah, and wonderful magical books, that
students without a guide, attracted to these subjects, ask for information
and seek in vain for the entrance to the temple of the learning they crave,
because they say that virtue's rules are meant for babes and Sunday-schools,
but not for them. 

And, in consequence, we find hundreds of books in all the languages of
Europe dealing with rites, ceremonies, invocations, and other obscurities
that will lead to nothing but loss of time and money. But few of these
authors had anything save "mere eye-knowledge." 'Tis true they have
sometimes a reputation, but it is only that accorded to an ignoramus by
those who are more ignorant.

The so-called great man, knowing how fatal to reputation it would be to tell
how really small is his practical knowledge, prates about "projections and
elementals," "philosopher's stone and elixir," but discreetly keeps from his
readers the paucity of his acquirements and the insecurity of his own mental

Let the seeker know, once for all, that the virtues cannot be discarded nor
ignored; they must be made a part of our life, and their philosophical basis
must be understood.

But it may be asked, if in the culture of concentration we will succeed
alone by the practice of virtue. The answer is No, not in this life, but
perhaps one day in a later life. The life of virtue accumulates much merit;
that merit will at some time cause one to be born in a wise family where the
real practice of concentration may perchance begin; or it may cause one to
be born in a family of devotees or those far advanced on the Path, as said
in Bhagavad-Gita. But such a birth as this, says Krishna, is difficult to
obtain; hence the virtues alone will not always lead in short space to our
object. We must make up our minds to a life of constant work upon this line.

The lazy ones or they who ask for pleasure may as well give it up at the
threshold and be content with the pleasant paths marked out for those who
"fear God and honor the King." 

Immense fields of investigation and experiment have to be traversed; dangers
unthought of and forces unknown are to be met; and all must be overcome, for
in this battle there is no quarter asked or given. 

Great stores of knowledge must be found and seized. The kingdom of heaven is
not to be had for the asking; it must be taken by violence. And the only way
in which we can gain the will and the power to thus seize and hold is by
acquiring the virtues on the one hand, and minutely understanding ourselves
on the other.

Some day we will begin to see why not one passing thought may be ignored,
not one flitting impression missed. This we can perceive is no simple task.
It is a gigantic work.

Did you ever reflect that the mere passing sight of a picture, or a single
word instantly lost in the rush of the world, may be basis for a dream that
will poison the night and react upon the brain next day. Each one must be

If you have not noticed it, then when you awake next day you have to go back
in memory over every word and circumstance of the preceding day, seeking,
like the astronomer through space, for the lost one. And, similarly, without
such a special reason, you must learn to be able to go thus backward into
your days so as to go over carefully and in detail all that happened, all
that you permitted to pass through the brain. Is this an easy matter?


But let us for a moment return to the sham adepts, the reputed Masters,
whether they were well-intentioned or the reverse. Take Eliphas Levi, who
wrote so many good things, and whose books contain such masses of mysterious
hints. Out of his own mouth he convicts himself. With great show he tells of
the raising of the shade of Apollonius. 

Weeks beforehand all sorts of preparations had to be made, and on the
momentous night absurd necromantic performances were gone through. What was
the result? Why only that the so-called shade appeared for a few moments,
and Levi says they never attempted it again. Any good medium of these days
could call up the shade of Apollonius without preparation, and if Levi were
an Adept he could have seen the dead quite as easily as he turned to his
picture in a book. 

By these sporadic attempts and outside preparations, nothing is really
gained but harm to those who thus indulge. And the foolish dabbling by
American theosophists with practices of the Yogis of India that are not
one-eighth understood and which in themselves are inadequate, will lead to
much worse results than the apocryphal attempt recorded by Eliphas Levi.

As we have to deal with the Western mind now ours, all unused as it is to
these things and over-burdened with false training and falser logic, we must
begin where we are, we must examine our present possessions and grow to know
our own present powers and mental machinery. This done, we may proceed to
see ourselves in the way that shall bring about the best result.


PATH, February, 1890 (Extracts from his article)


best wishes,


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