Occultism and Mysticism
Dear brothers and sisters!
The time we are living in will be remembered as a wonderful era in the history of mankind because it is marked by a huge spiritual movement towards the search for God.
People seem to wake up from a deep slumber and they are exhibiting spiritual hunger. Materialistic ideas don’t satisfy them any longer because these ideas do not provide any moral content for life, nor justification for it.
The analytical thought of man reached the limits of concrete and abstract thinking and found itself in a “painful emptiness”, as V. Solovyov nicely said.
We can hear screams from everywhere about that “there is nothing to live for,” ‘’life has no meaning’’, “life is painful and aimless’’ ... This is the cry of the human soul. Hundreds of people break the thread of life and leave it because of this despair. That is why the search for God and the search for the purpose and meaning of life has become the hallmark of our era.
The wave of this movement began in the West and then came to us. We can see how in these days all kinds of circles and societies are appearing for pursuing diverse aspects of spirituality. Serious literature has appeared that is trying to interpret the lower questions of existence, reproducing and restoring ancient knowledge and beliefs.
All these are vivid signs of the search for Truth by the human soul on the paths of spiritualism, Theosophy, religious and philosophical research, occultism and mysticism. And among all the spiritual movements of the present time, the most interesting and fascinating to the people is occultism.
Occultism, as all of us know, is a science that studies the invisible world and the laws that apply to it. Like any other science, occultism has well-known methods, the essence of which focused on the development of special organs in the human body that can perceive the impressions of the invisible world and transmit them to consciousness. Only then it becomes possible to study the invisible.
If occultism is such a promising way and therefore very exciting for people who seek it, it is extremely important to know what results its practical application will bring and how much these results will answer the main goal of the search: namely, will they find God, and with Him the purpose and meaning of life?
To solve this basic question, you need to know exactly does occultism perceives the invisible world.
Occultism teaches that the visible physical world is a condensation of invisible atoms of invisible primary matter. The sphere of that invisible matter, which is the closest to the world, is the Astral or Psychic world, penetrating our entire planet and all living beings in it and going far beyond it, approximately to the orbit of the Moon.
This sphere consists of combinations of invisible matter that carry and express instinct, emotion, passion and feeling. In other words, this medium vibrates only as an expression of one or another feeling, instinct, passion, emotion, and serves as their building material. As part of the human body, it expresses our individuality and psyche.
The higher state of this matter, which has more subtle energetic vibrations, serves as an expression of a higher energy, namely thought, and therefore it is called the world of thought, or the Mental world.
In the human constitution, the Mental sphere is expressed as thought.
These worlds are inhabited by those creatures whom we name spirits. It would take a long time to list the categories of these spirits according to the teachings of the Occult. We can say that in general they are divided into the following groups:
a) Souls of deceased people and souls entering the material plane.
b) Spirits of the elemental essence. These entities are connected to Nature and carry its four elements, which are unconscious forces that have their own hierarchy. (Metropolitan bishop of Moscow Filaret called them “a cattle of the invisible world’’, and V. Soloviev named them “a God's cattle’’). These also include the unconscious souls of the dead animals.
c) Larvae, or simply demons of different categories, which are not embodied.
d) Sense-images and thought-images. These are the essence of the creation of our feelings and thoughts, unconscious images and forms that act temporarily only until the feeling or thought keep existing. This is a kind of self-propelled mines of the invisible world.
The lower state of the astral world is the dwelling place of the most stubborn, embittered souls who do not want to leave their existence. This is the hell that the Holy Scripture is talking about. The Astral world and partly the Mental world are the places of suffering and painful purification. These are the worlds of personal feeling and passion, personal thought, and therefore worlds of personal consciousness and self-affirmation, and that’s why, consequently, these are the worlds of egoistic vibrations. We can conclude that the evil and suffering that reign in our world reign there as well, even much more intensively than in our world, because life there is much more intense in all its manifestations. In the Astral world there is the suffering of the feeling, and in the Mental world there is the suffering and purification of the thought.
And if we recognize, as the southern Buddhist theosophy assures us, that the mental world at its highest levels is a resting place of the human soul (Devakan), then it can be said with confidence that this state, which by nature remains its self-affirming consciousness of its personal ‘’Self’’, is a place of bliss.
The unity with the Absolute Goodness is completely incompatible with the consciousness of our separate Self. For consciousness would not be consciousness if it doesn’t distinguish between “I” and “not-I,” that is, if it would separate itself. And this is the seed of selfishness and the beginning of evil.
So we see that, by their nature, the Astral and the Mental worlds appear as the spheres of purification. Selfishness is also existing there in all its manifestations, also there is a living evil in the form of passions, just as in the physical world. There is no reason to study it, except as a topic of general curiosity.
The ethical side in these studies is in the best case hidden and in the worst it is completely absent, as in, for example, the “left way”. Therefore, all the Occult teaching is secretive, since this knowledge might be used as an instrument of abuse, for it does not contain a higher spiritual principle, but only theoretical ethics.
Now let us consider the path of mental development that the occultist goes through and what results he achieves. It is said above that the first task of the occultist is to develop centers in his body for the perception of the invisible.
The organs of these perceptions lie in the sympathetic or ganglionic nervous system. There are only seven of them and they are called plexuses in physiology. The main of these plexuses is called the Solar Plexus (plexus solaris), located slightly below the heart, behind the stomach.
Physiology knows that the functions of the nervous system are to maintain the so-called ‘’plant life’’ of the body. It manages breathing, blood circulation, digestion, etc., the involuntary internal work of the body. It apparently is not at all subordinate to the will, because a person cannot willingly stop the heart beat or blood circulation, for example.
But at the same time, this system is a mediator between the body and invisible influences. This mediation is very weak and in case of an ordinary person is expressed as apprehensions of unaccountable moods. Subjects with more sensitive nerves might be able to foresee the misfortune, they feel sympathy and antipathy, which they cannot explain, they feel the thoughts and emotional feelings of others. But all these impressions are very vague, unclear and cannot be precisely formulated by consciousness.
Sometimes when we foresee misfortune, we say that “the heart hurts”, or that “there is heavy heart’’, or that, in opposite, “the heart is light and joyful’’. Thus, we tend to connect our emotional sensations to the heart. In reality, we are only mistaken in what we call “the heart’’ itself. Actually, this is the solar plexus and the plexus of the sympathetic system, which gives us these or other impressions of the waves of invisible energies.
The plexuses transmit their impressions through the dynamic nerves to the heart, and the latter transmits the impressions through the floating nerve, which brings them to the attention of the brain consciousness, but in extremely vague and unclear form. The ambiguity and nebula of these impressions comes from a very poor, undeveloped perception the plexuses and a poor, obscure transmission of them to the brain.
So, the sympathetic system functions independently from our will, and its perceptions of the invisible world are very weak. The first task of the occultist is: 1) to develop its activity of plexuses for a more energetic and distinct perception, and 2) to make its activity clear to consciousness and subordinate this activity to the will.
This is achieved by so-called meditation, an exercise in long concentrated thinking, in which the thought should achieve the greatest degree of concentration, or concentration on its internal mental sensations. The constant intense attention of thought should be paid to these sensations, and all the willpower should be focused on subjugating all mental movements and mastering all emotions, and through them, the activity of plexuses.
As a result of these tedious exercises of thought and will, the ability to create a huge concentration of thought is created and a strong energy of waves is accumulated. At the same time even more tiring and very dangerous exercises are performed, which aim at strengthening the activity of the plexuses. In the East, this development is called the awakening of the Kundalini energy. The awakening of plexuses to energetic activity is marked by enlarging of impressions of the Astral world (small kundalini). When these awakened perceptions become aggravated to the highest degree, the plexuses begin to receive the impressions of the Mental world (greater kundalnini).
But since the clarity and strength of receiving and transmitting these impressions of the invisible worlds to the consciousness mainly depends on possible mental calmness, the occultist, having mastered his emotions and passions from the very beginning, must suppress and kill them.
Of course, emotions and passions are not actually killed, because they arise and exist in the astral body, which has tremendous energy. They are only suppressed and ‘’anesthetized’’, because otherwise these suppressed passions can break through to action with great and unbeatable strength.
Then through these awakened plexuses, which are like the windows into the astral world, a hurricane of the astral current of the corresponding passion bursts, attracted by the similar action in the astral body of a person, and he falls, crushed and destroyed by this psychic elemental force.
These cases are frequent and indicate a lack of balance between an underdeveloped will of consciousness and prematurely awakened plexuses. Thus, we see that the ideal result of the occult education is the following: the activity of sympathetic nervous system is completely subordinate to the will and introduced into the waking brain consciousness. Consciousness receives clear impressions of the invisible world from plexuses and disposes a large battery of will, which can regulate and direct the activity of plexuses according to our will, just as we act with our eyes, hands, and feet. The emerging emotions in the astral body are suppressed, and unwanted ones are ‘’anesthetized’’. In this state, a person presents himself as a ‘’radiator’’, acting on two sides.
On the one hand, he perceives the impressions of the physical world. His ordinary nervous system reacts to them, brings them to the attention of consciousness, which manages the further actions.
On the other hand, a sympathetic system is turned towards the invisible world, which also perceives impressions from there, brings them to a consciousness that also manages the further actions.
Having achieved mastery of the magnetic currents of his body, in which the vital force of the body circulates, and also mastering his astral and mental bodies, the occultist is the complete steward of his magnetic polarization, his psyche and his thoughts. Exteriorizing them with the help of strong willful energy, he can produce such impulses in an invisible sphere that will cause those or other phenomena in the physical world that can strike the imagination and be accepted as miracles, as supernatural phenomena.
Of course, a person who has achieved this has an incomparable advantage over ordinary people. Having at his disposal such energies as magnetic, astral and mental and, controlling his currents by his personal discretion, he can do a lot of good things, but also a lot of evil. The choice depends entirely on him.
Although during the occult teaching, the ethical side is developed by all measures, the student advances in his knowledge very slowly and exactly as much as he has progressed in his love for his neighbors and the world, in his ethical cleansing and gradual renunciation of personal egoism, personal benefits and personal desires. The ability to act independently and complete information about the disclosure of all his abilities are given only when he has passed the so called path of the “Great Renunciation’’, obliging him to devote all his strength and ability to devote only to doing good to all beings in the world. Despite all this, it must be recognized that this very high ethics grows to a great extent artificially.
Its incentive is not the fiery love experienced by the whole being of a person for his neighbors and the world, but the curiosity of his inquiring mind, the courage of his thought, seeking to penetrate and explore the hidden worlds.
The nature of this ethics nevertheless remains the nature of human consciousness, the nature of a separate, egoistic self, and therefore highly conditional, vain and unstable, which is proved by frequent falls, under the whirlwind of rebellious passions leading to witchcraft.
Occult powers can only be entrusted to that ethic, which does not arise from the curiosity of research, but from the breath of the Holy Spirit, kindling in the soul the flame of unquenchable love for humanity, for its good, happiness and salvation. This ethic is not thought out by the mind, but arises in the heart and is experienced by a person who does not understand the other life and other impulses, besides doing good and feeling love for people.
What conclusion should we draw from the above?
We see that the person who wants to follow a path of scientific practical occultism must cleanse and develop his invisible bodies and rebuild his physical body, must produce tremendous mental work and spend tremendous energy on this restructuring, must develop automatism in the suppression of his feelings, emotions and passions, must risk a thousand times falling victim to an involuntary error, which is always possible and which is difficult to foresee. Then, after many years of tiresome and monotonous exercises, he achieves the indicated results of a developed and powerful psyche.
But do these results guarantee his own happiness? Do they guarantee him finding the purpose and meaning of life, finding and seeing God? Do they guarantee him an inexhaustible love for humanity, in which only God can be found? That is very doubtful. We need to accept that if this path leads to God, then it is accessible only to the few.
Among the mysterious ways of God, by which He brings all His creation to Himself, there is one shortest and most complete of divine principles, coming out from worlds incorrupt, not material. This is the way of Christian Mysticism.
‘’seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you’’ - the Savior of the world teaches.
Great and wise is the innermost knowledge, but it is not necessary for man. A reverential fellowship with God is above everything. One thing is necessary for man - to be with God, to feel and see Him in the indescribable Light of the spiritual world. Then no knowledge will be hidden for a person, for everything in the world depends on the Spirit, everything acts and moves according to the impulses and laws given by Him.
There is nothing in the world that does not come from the Spirit. There is nothing to evade the principles established by Him. One who penetrates the kingdom of the Spirit (spiritual world), penetrates into all worlds. For him, the secrets of God's Wisdom will be revealed.
Nothing in the whole world can be a secret to him, for everything else is lower than the Spirit. And the lower always depends on the higher.
We have seen that in the astral world, evil and egoism act no less than in the physical world, and even more intensively, especially in the lower states of the astral. In the mental world, it significantly weakens and manifests itself only in the form of isolation of the consciousness of the personal Self.
But already the higher states of the Mental world, according to the teachings of the Occult, are so bright and so much more perfect that the separate consciousness begins to merge with Wholeness and loses the limits of its isolation, preparing to go to the next spiritual world, the world of immortality, where it completely merges with Oneness.
Only one energy remains in the spiritual world: the energy of all-embracing love, which transfers the conscious from mortal, perishable lower worlds to the immortal spiritual world.
Everything else remains below and is doomed to death and destruction, as imperfect and material.
If an imperfect person can relate to imperfect worlds, the astral and mental, as to the objects of research, observation, and criticism, then towards the spiritual world, the dwelling of God, he can relate only with reverent silence. The soul senses the presence of the Eternal. The soul feels with all its being the presence of God, before which all earthly impulses fall silent and prostrate.
The spiritual world is not subject to any research. There are no tools and ways for its research. Spiritual Truth is known only by the spirit. There is no other way.
And when the human soul, following this path, reverently ascends into the kingdom of the Spirit, then on the threshold of it the Creatures of a royal kind meet him, shining with the Divine Love, which is the first and irresistible force of the universe.
These beings are the strength and authority of the Lord - angels, souls of the righteous and saints, living in the indescribable light of the Kingdom of the Spirit.
Then all knowledge becomes clear to the soul, and all the secrets of the Wisdom of God are revealed before its spiritual gaze, without any study and research on its part.
A person who has achieved this during the life of his material body can temporarily leave it and ascend with his soul to the spiritual areas, draw his strength from them and act as a mediator between Earth and Heaven, act as intercessor for the Earth in Heaven and bring spiritual comfort to the Earth from there, where this comfort is so badly needed.
This path is Christian Mysticism. This is a spiritual path. This path should be taken by anyone who wants to find God, to see Him just as he sees his neighbors every day, to feel His love and goodness and to receive all knowledge from Him. There is no other way to Him, as through the Kingdom of the Spirit.
Let us consider how people got this way.
We know that Jesus Christ, the Savior, said:
«I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me» (John 14:6)
By His preaching, life and suffering, He Himself showed the first example of the highest selfless Love.
We also know that the keeper of the secret Christian teaching, St. The Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian teaches believers this way:
«Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love» (1 John 4:8)
Here are clear directions to the path to God. The Path is indicated by the Self-embodied Word of God and by His beloved divine Apostle.
This path is not abstract, distant, incomprehensible, but concrete, vibrant, close and clear to all.
The path corresponding to the nature of the human soul, in which the greatest power lies, which is the power of love.
On these instructions is built the whole technique of development of the soul of man according to the spiritual principles. Not psychic principles, as we saw in occultism, but spiritual, divine by their very nature.
All the invisible spheres of man — magnetic, astral, and mental — are material and have, like all matter, an atomistic structure and a certain form.
Therefore, they are all mortal, for everything that has a form is temporary and destructible. And if after physical death the soul lives in the astral form, then this form, although much more stable than the physical body, nevertheless disintegrates after a certain period of years. The soul remains to live in the mental form, which in turn is also not eternal and getting exhausted.
And only when the soul gains spirituality, in other words, gets a spiritual body, only then it can be said that it is immortal and eternal. When it lives in the spiritual world, it cognizes God through experience.
But what is spirituality? How does this state manifest in a person in how to develop it?
Spirituality is the ability to feel by the soul its unity with God and with everything that exists. This state is something higher than the state of consciousness and higher consciousness. Consciousness in all its stages from the lowest to the highest has its own characteristic attribute that defines it.
There is a clearly distinguished feature between what constitutes the personal "Self" of a person and what lies beyond it, which cannot be included in the feeling of a personal "Self". This difference between “Self” and everything else, which is “Not-Self”, is the main feature of what we mean by consciousness.
The wider the consciousness of man, the wider the boundaries of his personal "Self". Expanding, consciousness (under certain conditions) reaches a state in which, according to Kant, a person begins to understand the "meaning of the essence of things", interpreted by Hegel, as a border of consciousness accessible to a person. This state (known to every mystic) is what is called a higher consciousness in occult literature.
In this state, a person begins to understand more or less clearly that the border between the “Self” and “Not-Self” that he sees is steadily striving to expand and at the same time loses its clarity, gradually disappears. In other words, it becomes clear to him that this border is a fiction, an imaginary trait created by his selfish rational thought. That in reality, life and consciousness throughout the world are unified.
That in the world there is no “me,” “you” and “him,” there is no division into separate, independent existences, but there is a unified matter, transformed into a unified force, which is transformed into a unified life. One life is transformed into a unified consciousness, and these last are transformed into a unified love.
And this whole process of the world evolution is embraced by the Love of God.
This is what seems clear, obvious and certain to a person who has reached the state of the higher consciousness.
But this is not spirituality yet, it is only a higher consciousness.
One can understand this clearly, but the understanding is not enough; it is necessary to penetrate this truth, to experience it, to feel it, to be related to it with the soul so much that another idea, another feeling, another sensation would be organically impossible for a person.
When this world unity is experienced by the whole psychic being of a person, foresaw by all the fibers of his soul, then the higher conscious abstract idea will receive, so to speak, flesh and blood, and will turn into a mental state, into a spiritual feeling of complete satisfaction, peace and love for all sentient beings.
In this state, the soul constantly feels its unity with God and with the whole world, its inseparability with world life, its inexplicable and indestructible connection and complete unity with each person, regardless of his qualities and properties.
Of course, such a state completely recreates and fundamentally changes a person’s attitude to other people, to life, his tasks and his activities.
Feeling his constant connection with the world and living in an atmosphere of a powerful sense of unity with all living creatures, a person naturally moves the center of his activity beyond the limits of personal interest. Now his interests are identified with that of others, which wasn’t the case before.
In this way a perfect mental rebirth takes place. Personal “Self’’ fades into the background of person’s attention. The feelings and emotions that arise in the astral body of the person seek their realization in activity of making goodness, expressing altruism and selflessness. And only in these ways does the soul ‘’vibrate’’ and in these matters only it finds joy.
A bright, joyful state of deep peace and full satisfaction reigns in the soul, doubts disappear and The Kingdom of God opens inside. So, that’s how we see that the mental rebirth of a person leads to a spiritual state. This process is a gradual change in the vibrations of the astral body of a person towards the love for one's neighbor, altruism and selflessness.
It means that the level of spirituality depends on how does the mystic develop these sides of the soul. Thus, the astral body of the mystic is an instrument for acquiring spirituality and spiritual vision. But the astral body of an ordinary person, with his selfishness and selfish feelings that live in this body, cannot work for spirituality. It must be purified and reborn. Its vibrations must change.
The process of this purification is described in the mystical literature in a very detailed way and boils down to three main principles:
1. Purification of the heart, or astral body
2. Purification of the thought, or mental body and consciousness
3. Abstinence from evil and temptations and the accumulation of willpower.
Purification of the heart is achieved by converting the evil and selfish emotions into good and altruistic. The astral body is gradually getting cleansed and it turns its chaotic energy into the positive altruistic energy. Evil feelings weaken and turn into good ones.
Purification of thought is achieved by spiritual contemplation.
Spiritual contemplation is a concentration of thought on the objects of divine order, in which the process of thinking is focused on the internal meaning of these objects. Moreover, the topics which are chosen for contemplation provide reverent and highly ethical feelings. Such an exercise in contemplative thinking, which is constantly causing the manifestation of the best feelings in the soul, produces a very special effect. These feelings in the astral body become permanent and, kind of automatic. The astral body becomes so subtle and receptive that it begins to “feel every thought and understand the inner meaning of every phenomenon”.
As a side effect of this mental work (purification of the heart and thoughts) the activity of the plexuses of the sympathetic nervous system also become awakened and developed. They begin to perceive the phenomena of the astral and mental worlds, but only those phenomena which are equal to the purified consciousness and psyche of the mystic in their ethical purity. Finally, abstinence from evil and temptations helps in mental cleansing and in accumulating enormous willpower, which can control any internal movement of the soul.
As a result of all this mystical work, one's psyche becomes so refined and therefore dynamically so powerful, that purely spiritual perceptions are opened within it. This power embraces and permeates the entire purified astral plane of the soul and lights it with an unquenchable flame, illuminates with an unextinguished light and arouses the tireless pursuit of spiritual beneficial activities for others and for divine truth, for God. This is the Overshadow of man by the goodness of the Holy Spirit.
As soon as the soul of the mystic feels the spiritual world, then all its impulses, anxieties, thoughts and doubts fall silent. In a deep reverence, it hears the Highest Revelation, and a spiritual vision is revealed in it. Then nothing is hidden in front of the soul. These words are literally justified:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you’’ (Matthew 6:33)
The mystic first found the Kingdom of God in his soul, and all energies of the soul turned into one unified energy of love. He understood the truth of God, which is also expressed in love for the whole world. World evolution is based on these foundations. He also understood the Will of God, which drives the evolution of the world. He understood the greatest truth that the manifestation of the human will in the apparently smallest things is permissible only when this will coincides with the will of God. The words ‘’Thy will be done’’ became his will’s regulator.
So now we clearly see the difference between the two paths of consciousness. Occultists, be it a European or a Hindu Raj-yogi, in search of truth seek to lift the mysterious triple veil of Isis. They are attracted not by a thirst for God, but by curiosity and a spirit of exploration. The mystic first seeks God, realizing that in Him and only in Him Alone he will find the absolute truth. Without God, he cannot and will not live. The occultist prepares his physical and mental body for communication with the invisible worlds and begins this connection with the lower worlds. Here he meets with forces and energies that might crush his will at every step and enslave his soul with elemental, irresistible temptations. The astral world is a sphere where a poisonous snake hides under each flower.
The mystic chooses a completely different path. He processes his whole soul through purification, turning all the energies and emotions of the soul into the active power of love. When the soul is purified significantly, the mystic does not start his path from below, but from above, developing spirituality in himself. He is being born from the Spirit and makes contact with the spiritual world.
The force that opens the door of the astral world to the occultist is his personal will which is influencing his thought. The power that opens to the mystic spiritual world is love. The goal of the occultist, as mentioned above, is to develop the perception of the invisible world and to transfer this perception to the consciousness. He doesn’t know anything above the consciousness.
The mystic's goal is to raise his psyche consciousness to a tremendous height and to develop spiritual perception in it, and then to develop spirituality itself, which is the power of the divine and immortal. The occultist, entering the astral world, exposes innumerable dangers to his life and his soul, because this is a world of passions, evil and selfishness.
The mystic passes through the astral and mental worlds. His soul is closed to these worlds. It vibrates only on the spiritual energies of the imperishable spiritual world. In the astral and mental worlds, he appears in his spiritual body (the body of Glory) only for the actions of love and mercy, since all their secrets are open to him. Finally, producing any phenomena, the occultist invokes them by the action of his will, directing tremendous power to the astral currents. He acts in the name of his will, his personal ‘’Self’’.
The mystic, on the other hand, merges his whole dynamized will with the Divine Will and acts by the grace of the Holy Spirit, vibrating in his soul. He acts in the name of the will of God. The power of the grace of the Holy Spirit, with which we all live and move, is the power of God. And therefore, there is no way to compare this cosmic Divine Power with the will of the most powerful magician or raj yogi, who is nothing but a handful of earthly dust before the will of God.
We must conclude that the future of mankind lies in mysticism. Only it is a direct and safe path to God, because Love is its instrument, which is a guarantee of general happiness. Love, however, is the power by which life moves in all its manifestations and at all levels. Where there is no love, there is no life and light. There is cold and gloom. Forever young, ever sparkling, dazzling, ever reviving and renewing — Love is truly the Power of God.
So, brothers, let us love each another to be worthy the Love of God!
Report by A.S. Kellat
(Read at the assembly of the Christian Theosophical Society 21 X 1911. Smolensk)