THE THIRD LESSON – THE SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLES
In our Second Lesson we gave you a brief outline of the Fourth and Fifth Principles of Man, i.e.; 4. Instinctive Mind, and 5. Intellect. As we have told you before, man has passed through the Fourth Principle stage to its extreme, and has now passed on to a consciousness of the Fifth Principle, Intellect. Some of us have developed the Intellectual stage to a considerable extent (although we have practically conquered but a few square miles of the new territory of the mind, and there is still a great task before us), while other men seem to have a consciousness almost altogether within the borders of the Instinctive Mind, and have only a glimmering of Intellect.
Not only is this true of the savage races, but many, very many of so-called “civilized” people have not learned to do their own thinking, and seem willing to allow others to do their thinking for them, they following certain leaders with the stupid habit of the sheep. But still the race is progressing, slowly but surely, and many are thinking now who never thought before, a greater number are refusing to take their thinking second hand, and are insisting upon knowing for themselves. When we consider that there are many men in whom the Fifth Principle, the Intellect, has scarcely unfolded, and that the race in general has taken but a few steps into the land of the Intellect, we begin to realize how difficult it is for any of us except the man or woman of exceptional spiritual unfoldment to comprehend even faintly the still higher Principles. It is something like a man born blind trying to comprehend light; or one born deaf endeavoring to form a mental concept of sound. One can only form an idea of something akin to his experiences. A man who has never tasted anything sweet cannot form an idea of sugar. Without experience or consciousness of a thing, our minds are unable to form a concept.
But nearly all of us who have been attracted to these lessons or who have attracted these lessons to us, have had experiences which will enable us to comprehend something of the Sixth Principle – have had glimmerings of consciousness which help us to understand something of the Spiritual Mind. A tendency toward the occult – the hunger of the soul for more light – are indications that the Sixth Principle, Spiritual Mind, is beginning to shade into our consciousness, and, although it may be ages before we awaken into full Spiritual Consciousness, we are still being influenced and helped by it. This spiritual unrest often causes us great discomfort, until we find ourselves on the right road to knowledge, and even thereafter we feel more or less unsatisfied by the few crumbs that drop to us from the table of Knowledge. But despair not, seekers after the Truth; these pains are but the travail of spiritual birth – great things are before you – take courage and fear not.
Toward the end of this lesson we will speak of the process of “Illumination” or Spiritual Consciousness, which has come, or is coming, to many of us, and what we have to say may throw light upon many experiences which have come to you, and for which you have heretofore had no explanation.
We will now take up the subject of the Sixth Principle, Spiritual Mind, which will be more or less plain to those who have had glimmerings of consciousness from this plane of the soul, but which will be full of “hard sayings.” and “dark corners” to those who have not as yet reached this stage of unfoldment. The Seventh Principle, The Spirit, however, is beyond the comprehension of any except the few enlightened and highly developed souls, in and out of the body, who are as far above the ordinary man as the average enlightened man is above the Bushman. We can but pass on to you enough to give you a general intellectual idea of what is meant by “Spirit” – the consciousness of it is still far beyond the race in its present stage. It is well, however, to know of the existence of Spirit, as it helps us to understand something of the Spiritual Mind, which is Spirit’s means of communication with the Intellectual consciousness. The comprehension of Spiritual Mind, however, opens up such a wonderful world of thought that we are satisfied to leave the understanding of Spirit until such time as we will grow into a consciousness of it.
6. The Spiritual Mind
The Sixth Principle, Spiritual Mind, has been styled by some writers “The Superconscious Mind,” which term is a fairly good one, as it distinguishes between the lower Subconscious Mind or Instinctive Mind, the Conscious Mind or Intellect, and itself, which latter, while outside of the realm of ordinary human consciousness, is still a very different thing from the lower or Instinctive Mind.
While the actual existence of the Spiritual Mind has been made manifest to but a limited number of the human race, there are many who are becoming conscious of a higher “Something Within,” which leads them up to higher and nobler thoughts, desires, aspirations, and deeds. And there is a still greater number who receive a faint glimmering of the light of the Spirit, and, though they know it not, are more or less influenced by it. In fact, the entire race receives some of its beneficent rays, although in some cases the light is so bedimmed by the dense material obstacles surrounding the man that his spiritual twilight is almost akin to the blackness of night. But man is ever unfolding, discarding sheath after sheath, and is slowly coming home. The light will eventually shine full upon all.
All that we consider good, noble, and great in the human mind emanates from the Spiritual Mind and is gradually unfolded into the ordinary consciousness. Some Eastern writers prefer the term “projected” as more correctly indicating the process whereby the ray of light is sent into the consciousness of the man who has not yet reached the superhuman stage of full Spiritual Consciousness. All that has come to man, in his evolution, which tends toward nobility, true religious feeling, kindness, humanity, justice, unselfish love, mercy, sympathy, etc., has come to him through his slowly unfolding Spiritual Mind. His love of God and his love of Man has come to him in this way. As the unfoldment goes on, his idea of justice enlarges; he has more Compassion; his feeling of Human Brotherhood increases; his idea of Love grows; and he increases in all the qualities which men of all creeds pronounce “good,” and which may all be summed up as the practical attempt to live out the teachings of that great spiritual Master, when He enunciated that great truth (well understood by the occultists of all creeds, but so little understood by many who claim to be followers of Him), saying: “And thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength,” and “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
As man’s Spiritual Consciousness begins to unfold, he begins to have an abiding sense of the reality of the existence of the Supreme Power, and, growing along with it, he finds the sense of Human Brotherhood – of human relationship – gradually coming into consciousness. He does not get these things from his Instinctive Mind, nor does his Intellect make him feel them. Spiritual Mind does not run contrary to Intellect – it simply goes beyond Intellect. It passes down to the Intellect certain truths which it finds in its own regions of the mind, and Intellect reasons about them. But they do not originate with Intellect. Intellect is cold – Spiritual Consciousness is warm and alive with high feeling.
Man’s growth toward a better and fuller idea of the Divine Power does not come from Intellect, although the latter reasons upon the impressions received and tries to form them into systems, creeds, cults, etc. Nor does the Intellect give us our growing sense of the relationship between man and man – the Brotherhood of Man. Let us tell you why man is kinder to his kind and to forms of life below him than ever before. It is not alone because the Intellect teaches him the value of kindness and love, for man does not become kind or loving by cold reasoning. On the contrary, he becomes kind and loving because there arise within him certain impulses and desires coming from some unknown place, which render it impossible for him to be otherwise without suffering discomfort and pain. These impulses are as real as other desires and impulses, and as man develops these impulses become more numerous and much stronger. Look at the world of a few hundred years ago, and look at it today, and see how much kinder and more loving we are than in those days. But do not boast of it, for we will seem as mere savages to those who follow us and who will wonder at our inhumanity to our brother-man from their point of view.
As man unfolds spiritually he feels his relationship to all mankind, and he begins to love his fellowman more and more. It hurts him to see others suffering, and when it hurts him enough he tries to do something to remedy it. As time goes on and man develops, the terrible suffering which many human beings undergo today will be impossible, for the reason that the unfolding Spiritual Consciousness of the race will make the pain felt so severely by all that the race will not be able to stand it, and they will insist upon matters being remedied. From the inner recesses of the soul comes a protest against the following of the lower animal nature, and, although we may put it aside for a time, it will become more and more persistent, until we are forced to heed it. The old story of each person having two advisors, one at each ear, one whispering to him to follow the higher teachings and the other tempting him to pursue the lower path, is shown to be practically true by the occult teaching regarding the three mental principles. The Intellect represents the “I” consciousness of the average person. This “I” has on one side the Instinctive Mind sending him to the old desires of the former self – the impulses of the less developed life of the animal or lower man, which desires were all very well in lower stages of development, but which are unworthy of the growing man. On the other side is the Spiritual Mind, sending its unfolding impulses into the Intellect, and endeavoring to draw the consciousness up to itself – to aid in the man’s unfoldment and development, and to cause him to master and control his lower nature.
The struggle between the higher and lower natures has been noticed by all careful observers of the human mind and character, and many have been the theories advanced to account for it. In former times it was taught that man was being tempted by the devil on the one hand, and helped by a guardian angel on the other. But the truth is known to all occultists that the struggle is between the two elements of man’s nature, not exactly warring, but each following its own line of effort, and the “I” being torn and bruised in its efforts to adjust itself. The Ego is in a transition stage of consciousness, and the struggle is quite painful at times, but the growing man in time rises above the attraction of the lower nature, and dawning Spiritual Consciousness enables him to understand the true state of affairs, and aids him in asserting his mastery over the lower self and in assuming a positive attitude toward it, while at the same time he opens himself up to the light from the Spiritual Mind and holds himself in a negative attitude toward it, resisting not its power.
The Spiritual Mind is also the source of the “inspiration” which certain poets, painters, sculptors, writers, preachers, orators, and others have received in all times and which they receive today. This is the source from which the seer obtains his vision, the prophet his foresight. Many have concentrated themselves upon high ideals in their work, and have received rare knowledge from this source, and have attributed it to beings of another world – from angels, spirits, from God Himself; but all came from within – it was the voice of their Higher Self speaking to them. We do not mean to say that no communications come to man from other intelligences – far from this, we know that higher intelligences do often communicate with man through the channel of his Spiritual Mind – but much that man has attributed to outside intelligences has really come from himself. And man, by the development of his Spiritual Consciousness, may bring himself into a high relationship and contact with this higher part of his nature, and may thus become possessed of a knowledge of which the Intellect has not dared dream.
Certain high psychic powers are also open to man in this way, but such powers are rarely obtained by one until he has risen above the attractions of the lower part of his nature, for unless this were so man might use these high gifts for base purposes. It is only when man ceases to care for power for his personal use that power comes. Such is the Law.
When man learns of the existence of his Spiritual mind and begins to recognize its promptings and leadings, he strengthens his bond of communication with it, and consequently receives light of a greater brilliancy. When we learn to trust the Spirit, it responds by sending us more frequent flashes of illumination and enlightenment. As one unfolds in Spiritual Consciousness he relies more upon this Inner Voice, and is able more readily to distinguish it from impulses from the lower planes of the mind. He learns to follow Spirit’s leadings and to allow it to lend him a guiding hand. Many of us have learned to know the reality of being “led by the Spirit.” To those who have experienced this leading we need not say more, for they will recognize just what we mean. Those who have not as yet experienced it must wait until the time comes for them, for we cannot describe it, as there are no words to speak of these things which are beyond words.
Toward the close of this lesson we will give a brief outline of some of the phases of “Illumination” or awakening of Spiritual Consciousness, which has come to some of us and will come to all in this or future phases of their unfoldment. We must hasten on to a brief consideration of that which can only be faintly understood by any of us the Seventh Principle – Spirit.
How shall we approach this subject, which even the most advanced minds in the flesh today can but faintly comprehend? How can the finite express or comprehend the infinite? Spirit, man’s Seventh Principle, is the Divine Spark – our most precious inheritance from the Divine Power – a ray from the Central Sun – the Real Self. Words cannot express it. Our minds fail to grasp it. It is the soul of the Soul. To understand it we must understand God, for Spirit is a drop from the Spirit Ocean – a grain of sand from the shores of the Infinite – a particle of the Sacred Flame. It is that something within us which is the cause of our evolution through all the weary ages. It was the first to be, and yet it will be the last to appear in full consciousness. When man arrives at a full consciousness of Spirit, he will be so much higher than man that such a being is at present inconceivable to the Intellect. Confined in many sheaths of matter, it has waited through the long and weary ages for even a faint recognition, and is content to wait for ages more until it is fully brought into consciousness. Man will ascend many steps of development – from man to archangel – before Spirit will fully claim its own. The Spirit is that within man which closest approaches the Center – is nearest to God. It is only in an occasional precious moment that we are aware of the existence of Spirit within us, and in such moments we are conscious of coming into the awful presence of the Unknown. These moments may come when one is engaged in deep religious thought – while reading a poem bearing a precious message from soul to soul – in some hour of affliction when all human aid has failed us and when human words seem but mockery – in a moment when all seems lost and we feel the necessity of a direct word from a being higher than ourselves. When these moments come they leave with us a peace which never afterward entirely escapes us, and we are ever after changed beings. In the moment of Illumination or the dawn of Spiritual Consciousness we also feel the real presence of the Spirit. In these moments we become conscious of our relationship with and connection with the Center of Life. Through the medium of the Spirit God reveals Himself to Man. We cannot dwell longer on this subject – it overpowers one, and mere words seem too weak for use in connection with it. Those who have felt the impulses of the Spiritual Mind have been made faintly conscious of the abiding sense of the Spirit, although they cannot grasp its full significance. And those who have not experienced these things would not understand us if we wrote volumes of our imperfect and undeveloped conceptions of the subject. So we will pass on, trusting that we have awakened in your minds at least a faint desire to be brought into a closer communion and contact with this, the highest part of Self – Self itself. The Peace of the Spirit abide with you.
Illumination or Spiritual Consciousness
With many, Spiritual Mind unfolds gradually and slowly, and, while one may feel a steady increase of spiritual knowledge and consciousness, he may not have experienced any marked and startling change. Others have had moments of what is known as “Illumination,” when they seemed lifted almost out of their normal state, and where they seemed to pass into a higher plane of consciousness or being, which left them more advanced than ever before, although they could not carry back into consciousness a clear recollection of what they had experienced while in the exalted state of mind. These experiences have come to many persons, in different forms and degrees, of all forms of religious beliefs, and have been generally associated with some feature of the particular religious belief entertained by the person experiencing the illumination. But advanced occultists recognize all of these experiences as differing forms of one and the same thing the dawning of the Spiritual Consciousness -the unfoldment of the Spiritual Mind. Some writers have styled this experience “Cosmic Consciousness,” which is a very appropriate name, as the illumination, at least in its higher forms, brings one in touch with the whole of Life, making him feel a sense of kinship with all Life, high or low, great or small, “good” or “bad:”
These experiences, of course, vary materially according to the degree of unfoldment of the individual, his previous training, his temperament, etc., but certain characteristics are common to all. The most common feeling is that of possessing almost complete knowledge of all things – almost Omniscience. This feeling exists only for a moment, and leaves one at first in an agony of regret over what he has seen and lost. Another feeling commonly experienced is that of a certainty of immortality – a sense of actual being, and the certainty of having always been, and of being destined to always be. Another feeling is the total slipping away of all fear and the acquirement of a feeling of certainty, trust, and confidence, which is beyond the comprehension of those who have never experienced it. Then a feeling of love sweeps over one – a love which takes in all Life, from those near to one in the flesh to those at the farthest parts of the universe – from those whom we hold as pure and holy to those whom the world regards as vile, wicked, and utterly unworthy. All feelings of self-righteousness and condemnation seem to slip away, and one’s love, like the light of the sun, falls upon all alike, irrespective of their degree of development or “goodness.”
To some these experiences have come as a deep, reverent mood or feeling, which took complete possession of them for a few moments or longer, while others have seemed in a dream and have become conscious of a spiritual uplifting accompanied by a sensation of being surrounded by a brilliant and all-pervading light or glow. To some certain truths have become manifest in the shape of symbols, the true meaning of which did not become apparent until, perhaps, long afterward.
These experiences, when they have come to one, have left him in a new state of mind, and he has never been the same man afterward. Although. the keenness of the recollection has worn off, there remains a certain memory which long afterward proves a source of comfort and strength to him, especially when he feels faint of faith and is shaken like a reed by the winds of conflicting opinions and speculations of the Intellect. The memory of such an experience is a source of renewed strength – a haven of refuge to which the weary soul flies for shelter from the outside world, which understands it not.
These experiences are usually also accompanied with a sense of intense joy; in fact, the word and thought “Joy” seems to be uppermost in the mind at the time. But it is a joy not of ordinary experience – it is something which cannot be dreamed of until after one has experienced it – it is a joy the recollection of which will cause the blood to tingle and the heart to throb whenever the mind reverts to the experience. As we have already said, there also comes a sense of a “knowing” of all things – an intellectual illumination impossible to describe.
From the writings of the ancient philosophers of all races, from the songs of the great poets of all peoples, from the preachings of the prophets of all religions and times we can gather traces of this illumination which has come to them – this unfoldment of the Spiritual Consciousness. We have not the space to enumerate these numerous instances. One has told of it in one way, the other in another; but all tell practically the same story. All who have experienced this illumination, even in a faint degree, recognize the like experience in the tale, song, or preaching of another, though centuries may roll between them. It is the song of the Soul, which when once heard is never forgotten. Though it be sounded by the crude instrument of the semibarbarous races or the finished instrument of the talented musician of today, its strains are plainly recognized. From Old Egypt comes the song – from India in all ages – from Ancient Greece and Rome from the early Christian saint – from the Quaker Friend – from the Catholic monasteries – from the Mohammedan mosque – from the Chinese philosopher – from the legends of the American Indian hero prophet – it is always the same strain, and it is swelling louder and louder, as many more are taking it up and adding their voices or the sounds of their instruments to the grand chorus.
That much misunderstood Western poet, Walt Whitman, knew what he meant (and so do we) when he blurted out in uncouth verse his strange experiences. Read what he says – has it ever been better expressed?
As in a swoon, one instant,
Another sun, ineffable, full dazzles me,
And all the orbs I knew, and brighter, unknown orbs,
One instant of the future land, Heaven’s land.”
And when he rouses himself from his ecstasy, he cries:
“I cannot be awake,
For nothing looks to me as it did before,
Or else I am awake for th e first time,
And all before has been a mean sleep.
And we must join with him when he expresses
man’s inability to describe intelligently this thing in these words:
When I try to tell the best I find, I cannot;
My tongue is ineffectual on its pivots,
My breath will not be obedient to its organs,
I become a dumb man.
May this great joy of Illumination be yours, dear students. And it will be yours when the proper time comes. When it comes do not be dismayed, and when it leaves you do not mourn its loss – it will come again. Live on, reaching ever upward toward your Real Self and opening up yourself to its influence. Be always willing to listen to the Voice of The Silence – willing always to respond to the touch of The Unseen Hand. In the little manual, “Light on the Path,” you will find many things which will now perhaps seem plainer to you.
Do not fear again, for you have with you always the Real Self, which is a spark from the Divine Flame, and which will be as a lamp to your feet to show you the way.
Peace be unto you.