THEOSOPHY, Vol. 37, No. 10, August, 1949
(Pages 460-466; Size: 20K)
(Number 2 of a 3-part article)

THE "ELIXIR OF LIFE"(6)

(From a Chela's Diary)

By G____ M____ F.T.S.

II

IT will be seen now in connection with the doctrine of the tendency to the renewal of action before discussed, that the course of self-discipline recommended as the only road to Longevity by Occultism is not a "visionary" theory dealing with vague "ideas," but actually a scientifically devised system of drill. It is a system by which each particle of the several men composing the septenary individual receives an impulse, and a habit of doing what is necessary for certain purposes of its own free-will and with "pleasure." Every one must be practised and perfect in a thing to do it with pleasure. This rule specially applies to the case of the development of Man. "Virtue" may be very good in its way -- it may lead to the grandest results. But to become efficacious it has to be practised cheerfully, not with reluctance or pain. As a consequence of the above consideration the candidate for Longevity at the commencement of his career must begin to eschew his physical desires, not from any sentimental theory of right or wrong, but for the following good reason.

As, according to a well-known and now established scientific theory, his visible, material frame is always renewing its particles, he will, while abstaining from the gratification of his desires, reach the end of a certain period during which those particles which composed the man of vice, and which were given a bad predisposition, will have departed. At the same time, the disuse of such functions will tend to obstruct the entry, in place of the old particles, of new particles having a tendency to repeat the said acts. And, while this is the particular result as regards certain "vices," the general result of an abstention from "gross" acts will be (by a modification of the well-known Darwinian law of Atrophy by non-usage) to diminish what we may call the "relative" density and coherence of the outer shell (as a result of its less-used molecules); while the diminution in the quantity of its actual constituents will be "made up" (if tried by scales and weights) by the increased admission of more ethereal particles.

What physical desires are to be abandoned and in what order? First and foremost, he must give up alcohol in all forms; for, while it supplies no nourishment, nor even any direct pleasure (beyond such sweetness or fragrance as may be gained in the taste of wine etc., to which alcohol, in itself, is non-essential) to even the grossest elements of even the "physical" frame, it induces a violence of action, a rush, so to speak, of life, the stress of which can only be sustained by very dull, gross, and dense elements, and which, by the action of the well-known law of Re-action (say, in commercial phrase, "supply and demand") tends to summon them from the surrounding universe and, therefore, directly counteracts the object we have in view.

Next comes meat-eating, and for the very same reason in a minor degree. It increases the rapidity of life, the energy of action, the violence of passions. It may be good for a hero who has to fight and die, but not for a would-be sage who has to exist and......

Next in order come the sexual desires; for these, in addition to the great diversion of energy (vital force) into other channels, in many different ways, beyond the primary one (as, for instance, the waste of energy in expectation, jealousy, etc.), are direct attractions to a certain gross quality of the original matter of the Universe, simply because the most pleasurable physical sensations are only possible at that stage of density. Alongside with and extending beyond all these and other gratifications of the senses (which include not only those things usually known as "vicious," but all those which, though ordinarily regarded as "innocent," have yet the disqualification of ministering to the pleasures of the body -- the most harmless to others and the least "gross" being the criterion for those to be last abandoned in each case) -- must be carried on the moral purification.

Nor must it be imagined that "austerities" as commonly understood can, in the majority of cases, avail much to hasten the "etherealising" process. That is the rock on which many of the Eastern esoteric sects have foundered, and the reason why they have degenerated into degrading superstitions. The Western monks and the Eastern Yogees, who think they will reach the apex of powers by concentrating their thought on their navel, or by standing on one leg, are practising exercises which serve no other purpose than to strengthen the will power, which is sometimes applied to the basest purposes. These are examples of this one-sided and dwarfed development. It is of no use to fast as long as you require food. The ceasing of desire for food without impairment of health is the sign which indicates that it should be taken in lesser and ever decreasing quantities until the extreme limit compatible with life is reached. A stage will be finally attained where only water will be required.

Nor is it of any use for this particular purpose of longevity to abstain from immorality so long as you are craving for it in your heart; and so on with all other unsatisfied inward cravings. To get rid of the inward desire is the essential thing, and to mimic the real thing without it is barefaced hypocrisy and useless slavery.

So it must be with the moral purification of the heart. The "basest" inclinations must go first -- then the others. First avarice, then fear, then envy, worldly pride, uncharitableness, hatred; last of all ambition and curiosity must be abandoned successively. The strengthening of the more ethereal and so-called "spiritual" parts of the man must go on, at the same time. Reasoning from the known to the unknown, meditation must be practised and encouraged. Meditation is the inexpressible yearning of the inner Man to "go out towards the infinite," which in the olden time was the real meaning of adoration, but which has now no synonym in the European languages, because the thing no longer exists in the West and its name has been vulgarised to the make-believe shams known as prayer, glorification, and repentance. Through all stages of training the equilibrium of the consciousness -- the assurance that all must be right in the Kosmos, and, therefore, with you [as] a portion of it -- must be retained. The process of life must not be retarded, if possible; to do otherwise may do good to others -- perhaps even to yourself in other spheres -- but it will hasten your dissolution in this.

Nor must the externals be neglected in this first stage. Remember that an adept, though "existing" so as to convey to ordinary minds the idea of his being immortal, is not also invulnerable to agencies from without. The training to prolong life does not, in itself, secure one from accidents. As far as any physical preparation goes, the sword may still cut, the disease enter, the poison disarrange. This case is very clearly and beautifully put in Zanoni; and it is correctly put and must be so, unless all "adeptism" is a baseless lie. The adept may be more secure from ordinary dangers than the common mortal, but he is so by virtue of the superior knowledge, calmness, coolness, and penetration which his lengthened existence and its necessary concomitants have enabled him to acquire; not by virtue of any preservative power in the process itself. He is secure as a man armed with a rifle is more secure than a naked baboon; not secure in the sense in which the deva (god) was supposed to be securer than a man.

If this is so in the case of the high adept, how much more necessary is it that the neophyte should not only be protected but that he himself should use all possible means to ensure for himself the necessary duration of life to complete the process of mastering the phenomena we call death! It may be said, why do not the higher adepts protect him? Perhaps they do to some extent, but the child must learn to walk alone; to make him independent of his own efforts in respect to safety, would be destroying one element necessary to his development -- the sense of responsibility. What courage or conduct would be called for in a man sent to fight when armed with irresistible weapons and clothed in impenetrable armour? Hence the neophyte should endeavour, as far as possible, to fulfil every true canon of sanitary law as laid down by modern scientists. Pure air, pure water, pure food, gentle exercise, regular hours, pleasant occupations and surroundings, are all, if not indispensable, at least serviceable to his progress. It is to secure these, at least as much as silence and solitude, that the Gods, Sages, Occultists of all ages have retired as much as possible to the quiet of the country, the cool cave, the depth of the forest, the expanse of the desert, or the highest of the mountains. Is it not suggestive that the Gods have always loved the "high places"; and that in the present day the highest section of Occult Brotherhood on earth inhabit the highest mountain plateau on the earth?

Nor must the beginner disdain the assistance of medicine and good medical regimen. He is still an ordinary mortal, and he requires the aid of an ordinary mortal.

"Suppose, however, all the conditions required, or which the reader will understand as required -- (for the details and varieties of treatment requisite, are too numerous to be detailed here) are fulfilled, what is the next step?" -- the reader will ask. Well, if there have been no back-slidings or remissness in the procedure indicated, the following physical results will follow:--

First, the neophyte will take more pleasure in things spiritual and pure. Gradually gross and material occupations will become not only uncraved for or forbidden, but simply and literally repulsive to him. He will take more pleasure in the simple sensations of nature -- the sort of feeling one can remember to have experienced as a child. He will feel more light-hearted, confident, happy. Let him take care the sensation of renewed youth does not mislead, or he will yet risk a fall into his old baser life and even lower depths. "Action and Re-action are equal."

Now the desire for food will begin to cease. Let it be left off gradually -- no fasting is required. Take what you feel you require. The food craved for will be the most innocent and simple. Fruit and milk will usually be the best. Then, as till now, you have been simplifying the quality of your food, gradually -- very gradually -- as you feel capable of it, ... diminish the quantity. You will ask -- "Can a man exist without food?" No, but before you mock, consider the character of the process alluded to. It is a notorious fact that many of the lowest and simplest organisms have no excretions. The common guinea-worm is a very good instance. It has rather a complicated organism, but it has no ejaculatory duct. All it consumes -- the poorest essences of the human body -- is applied to its growth and propagation. Living as it does in human tissue, it passes no digested food away. The human neophyte, at a certain stage of his development, is in a somewhat analogous condition, with this difference or differences, that he does excrete, but it is through the pores of his skin, and by those too enter other etherealised particles of matter to contribute towards his support.(7) Otherwise, all the food and drink is sufficient only to keep in equilibrium those "gross" parts of his physical body which still remain -- to repair their cuticle-waste through the medium of the blood. Later on, the process of cell-development in his frame will undergo a change; a change for the better, the opposite of that in disease for the worse -- he will become all living and sensitive, and will derive nourishment from the Ether (Akas). But that epoch for our neophyte is yet far distant.

Probably, long before that period has arrived, other results, no less surprising than incredible to the uninitiated will have ensued to give our neophyte courage and consolation in his difficult task. It would be but a truism to repeat what has been again alleged (in ignorance of its real rationale) by hundreds and hundreds of writers as to the happiness and content conferred by a life of innocence and purity. But often at the very commencement of the process some real physical result, unexpected and unthought of by the neophyte, occurs. Some lingering disease, hitherto deemed hopeless, may take a favourable turn; or he may develop healing mesmeric powers himself; or some hitherto unknown sharpening of his senses may delight him. The rationale of these things is, as we have said, neither miraculous nor difficult of comprehension. In the first place, the sudden change in the direction of the vital energy (which, whatever view we take of it and its origin, is acknowledged by all schools of philosophy as most recondite, and as the motive power) must produce results of some kind. In the second, Theosophy shows, as we said before, that a man consists of several men [principles] pervading each other, and on this view (although it is very difficult to express the idea in language) it is but natural that the progressive etherealisation of the densest and most gross of all should leave the others literally more at liberty. A troop of horse may be blocked by a mob and have much difficulty in fighting its way through; but if every one of the mob could be changed suddenly into a ghost there would be little to retard it. And as each interior entity is more rare, active and volatile than the outer, and as each has relation with certain different elements, spaces, and properties of the kosmos which are treated of in other articles on Occultism, the mind of the reader may conceive -- though the pen of the writer could not express it in a dozen volumes -- the magnificent possibilities gradually unfolded to the neophyte.

Many of the opportunities thus suggested may be taken advantage of by the neophyte for his own safety, amusement, and the good of those around him; but the way in which he does this is one adapted to his fitness -- a part of the ordeal he has to pass through, and misuse of these powers will certainly entail the loss of them as a natural result -- the Itchcha (or desire) evoked anew by the vistas they open up will retard or throw back his progress.

(To be continued.)


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:

THE PHYSICAL AND THE SPIRITUAL BRAIN

Man, in addition to the physical, has also a spiritual brain. If the former is wholly dependent for the degree of its receptivity on its own physical structure and development, it is, on the other hand, entirely subordinate to the latter, inasmuch as it is the spiritual Ego alone, and accordingly as it leans more towards its two highest principles, or towards its physical shell, that can impress more or less vividly the outer brain with the perception of things purely spiritual or immaterial. Hence it depends on the acuteness of the mental feelings of the inner Ego, on the degree of spirituality of its faculties, to transfer the impression of the scenes its semi-spiritual brain perceives, the words it hears and what it feels, to the sleeping physical brain. The stronger the spirituality of the faculties of the latter, the easier it will be for the Ego to awake the sleeping hemispheres, arouse into activity the sensory ganglia and the cerebellum, and to impress the former -- always in full inactivity and rest during the deep sleep of man -- with the vivid picture of the subject so transferred.

The spiritual senses of the all-seeing, ever-wakeful Ego, unimpeded as they are by the interference of the physical senses, are in direct intimacy with man's highest spiritual principle. Hence highly spiritual persons will see visions and dreams during sleep and even in their hours of wakefulness: these are the sensitives, the natural-born seers, now loosely termed "spiritual mediums," there being no distinction made between a subjective seer, a neurypnological subject, and even an adept -- one who has made himself independent of his physiological idiosyncrasies and has entirely subjected the outer to the inner man. Those less spiritually endowed will see such dreams but at rare intervals, the accuracy of the latter depending on the intensity of their feelings in regard to the perceived object. 


--H. P. BLAVATSKY

Next article:
THE "ELIXIR OF LIFE"
(From a Chela's Diary)
By G____ M____ F.T.S.
III
(Part 3 of a 3-part article)

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TWO (2) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:

(6) NOTE.--The first portion of this article, originally published in The Theosophist, March and April, 1882, was reprinted in the July issue. --Editors THEOSOPHY.
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(7) He is in a state similar to the physical state of a foetus before birth into the world. --G.M.
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