THEOSOPHY, Vol. 38, No. 8, June, 1950
(Pages 350-352; Size: 10K)
(Number 6 of an 11-part series)



IT is not often that Sanskrit thought is brought into discussions on the empirical assumption that there is an outer world of fact and an inner one of reflection -- the objective and subjective worlds of scientific theory. Yet Mr. Gerald Heard (who has a "subjective world" of his own to promote) does this in considering the enlargement of outlook that should ensue upon consideration of the new data that goes under the name of Psychical Research. He feels that our whole "frame of reference" has grown too small, and that two important facts at least have suffered too much neglect:

(i) That this sharp division between objective and subjective had never been satisfactorily established.

(ii) That, though, through acting on it, power was gained over one's surroundings, no such power was gained over oneself. (Enquiry, London, No. 3, 1948.)

As one example, he points to the increase and graver type of mental malady, with which physicians everywhere are becoming familiar, and which has travelled from hysteria to the present phase of schizophrenia. It is here that Mr. Heard questions a statement of Prof. H. H. Price to the effect that the traditional doctrine of the soul takes no account of subconscious and unconscious mental processes.

Mr. Heard denies the truth of Prof. Price's assertion so far as Indian thought is concerned. "Sanskrit thinkers," he writes, "paid the same systematic attention to states of mind as we have paid to the states of the outer world." He enumerates items in their thinking which cannot but afford immense significance to any attempt that is made to construct a new hypothesis: a gradation of consciousness with an appropriate range of vehicles (gross, subtle, and casual), and, beyond these, the conceptions of "Atman" and "Brahman"; and "the correlation of these five states of consciousness with five aspects or increasingly full apprehensions of Reality, Subjective and Objective."

The casual reader might be content to take this as a statement of the septenary nature of man, but students of Theosophy observe therein a significant deviation from the theosophical philosophy -- it is impossible to identify "Atman" and "Brahman" with anything we know of as "states of consciousness." Mr. Heard's views show some advance in contemporary thought towards the esoteric philosophy, but Brahman or Atma is the Spirit and no principle, much less a state. "Our philosophy teaches us," said H. P. Blavatsky, "that as there are seven fundamental forces in nature, and seven planes of being, so there are seven states of consciousness in which man can live, think, remember, and have his being."

To illustrate the practical application of this wider range of division than is afforded by what he calls "the crude dichotomy of objective and subjective," Mr. Heard notes that Sanskrit thought classes the subtle body with the physical as material:

It survives the death of the gross body, but it dissolves later. This concept may prove helpful in estimating certain psychical research findings -- e.g., the fading of interest and memory which seems to characterise some fairly persistent "communicators." It is the causal body (or "sheath") which continues to exist, and, if "unenlightened," is supposed in the Sanskrit tradition to give rise to a new ego and hence to a new body.
It is not clear from these remarks if the writer is referring to the linga sharira (the doppelganger in German, or the eidolon of the Greeks) which is born before and fades out with the disappearance of the last atom of the physical body, or to kama-rupa, described by H. P. Blavatsky in these words:
Metaphysically, and in our esoteric philosophy, it is the subjective form created through the mental and physical desires and thoughts in connection with things of matter, by all sentient beings, a form which survives the death of their bodies. (Theosophical Glossary, p. 172.)
-- But survives the death of the physical body only for such time as is determined by the element of materiality left in it post mortem. A more accurate concept of the several astrals and their functions after death would perhaps have induced Mr. Heard to warn his readers against the danger of forcibly drawing the kama-rupa back into the terrestrial sphere, by mediumship or otherwise. He evidently did not become familiar enough with the activities of the pisacha, as it is known in India.

Mr. Heard contrasts the mechanistic hypothesis of science with the pressing need, in face of the accumulated data of psychical research, of a new generalisation or "understanding." We cannot but wonder, however, from a study of the Theosophical Movement since 1875, and of the deviations from the original teachings of its Founders, whether the prime conditions necessary to be fulfilled, have yet been realized. The dangers which threaten us -- owing to our inability to understand ourselves -- great though they are, cannot be compared with the perils of an easy descent into sorcery, such as encompass all who seek to investigate unexplained laws of nature and man's psychical powers. H. P. Blavatsky gave many reasons in her very first published work, Isis Unveiled (1877), as to why this study, "except in its broad philosophy, is nearly impracticable in Europe and America" (II, 635-6). And her general adjuration is as necessary today, when these subjects are perhaps more commendable to intelligent public opinion, as it was when she wrote:

We would have all to realize that magical, i.e., spiritual powers exist in every man, and those few to practice them who feel called to teach, and are ready to pay the price of discipline and self-conquest which their development exacts.

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:


Civilized nations lack the phenomenal powers of endurance, both mental and physical, of the Easterns; the favoring temperamental idiosyncrasies of the Orientals are utterly wanting in them. In the Hindu, the Arabian, the Thibetan, an intuitive perception of the possibilities of occult natural forces in subjection to human will, comes by inheritance; and in them, the physical senses as well as the spiritual are far more finely developed than in the Western races.... To become a neophyte, one must be ready to devote himself heart and soul to the study of mystic sciences. Magic -- most imperative of mistresses -- brooks no rival. Unlike other sciences, a theoretical knowledge of formulæ without mental capacities or soul powers, is utterly useless in magic. 


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(1) NOTE.--H. P. Blavatsky took pains to extend the "theosophical view" as far into the literature, the culture, the science, and the scholarship of the time as impartial investigations in the various fields would permit. Students of Theosophy are therefore on the lookout for other corroborative testimony on the philosophy, as new avenues of thought open up among modern thinkers. "Extensions of Evidence" aims to scan common grounds whereon the theosophist may meet the mind of the race. The series began in the January, 1950, issue. --Editors THEOSOPHY.
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