I now pass on to the strange and ancient system of training and discipline by which India taught the science of concentration which she considered the key to reunion with the forces of the universe and therefore control of the powers which in India are called the Siddhis and in the West are (so far as they have been heard of) connected with the occult and the miraculous.
I need scarcely say how profoundly I was interested on finding that in India has been built up for ages a perfect and coherent system of self-education, the gymnastic of the "Occult" powers which rightly used lead to the highest attainment but in any case to the Key of the Land behind the Looking Glass where all the good things wait to be chosen. I have dwelt on the adventures which await the entrant there in a novel I have just finished, and they are all true to this teaching. Attainment, far other than is possible in this thwarted world we have created
out of our physical sense-perception, is not only possible but certain there, for those who think the effort worth long pains and trouble along the lines indicated in this book.
This subject is such an enormous one, ramifying into every department of life, that I feel I can give only the silken thread with which the beetle climbed painfully upward to the prisoner in the tower. But at least the thread is silken, and the coiled rope lies below it.
And I hope that this very truncated statement may not be quite useless in aiding realization of the truth (that what desires and hopes are in a man he has the power to supply, not derived from any supernatural being but from his own relation to the forces of the universe: He who has the entry to the Land behind the Looking Glass may do what he will. And as I learned from personal experience it ceased to be astonishing that in Indian teaching the utmost stress was laid upon the comradeship of the body in the adventure. They said:
"The body is the boat which will carry us to the other shore of the Ocean of Life. So it must be taken care of and kept free from all disease. Never was there a wise man who had not to reject
pleasures and enjoyments of the senses to acquire his wisdom."
No doubt the first wish is to develop the body's powers for the body's own sake. That wish is soon forgotten when it is realized as an instrument of the psychic. I read with complete understanding in the ancient books of India that a human being is a channel for the flow of that ocean of power which vibrates and billows through the universe, that if the channel is kept clear the flow will be eternal, that if it is choked the flow will be delayed to the man's great detriment and loss until slowly and painfully he reaches higher stages of development. How he uses this force when he achieves it is his own responsibility. The world has had examples of many sorts of choice and their results. India has always taught in parables the doctrine of evolution of the body and soul. That of the body is taught perhaps most clearly in the wonderful birth-stories of the Buddha, where he is represented as evolving slowly upward from the lower planes of life, gathering and developing the experiences of each as he climbs along the chain of evolution. The doctrine of psychic evolution is of course taught almost throughout Asia in the
parable of reincarnation, which conveys an idea, impossible to be stated definitely in human terms, of the soul's return to the schoolroom of life-experience until it is fully developed and capable of reunion with the Source.
It will be interesting to give a list of some of the powers which the highest authority of ancient India declares are attainable by a man who follows the bodily and spiritual discipline laid down for the purpose of psychic attainment. And if it be objected that these are miracles and that there are no such things as miracles India fully endorses the latter statement:
"There are no such things as miracles. There is nothing superhuman, but humanity is in itself a part of all the power of the universe and recognizing this and living by the law that guides it can develop ability to use the same force as that which drives the tides, the winds, and more. There have been men who knowing this have used and use these powers in higher and lower degrees, and the day will surely come when this force will be more generally studied and understood in its full normality and transcendent power.
"The man disciplined and obedient to the law can know all that is in another man's mind by
using the proper means. A man disciplined may apparently vanish. He does not really vanish but none will see him. This can be done only by one who has gained by concentration the power in which the form and the things formed can be separated. Such a man can enter a dead body and make it arise and move even while he himself is inhabiting his own. Or he can enter a living body and direct that man's mind and organs and for the time being act through the body of that man. For each individual mind is but a part of the universal mind though from ignorance it believes itself separate and can therefore only work through the nerve currents of its own body. Therefore when a man has freed himself from the nerve currents of his own body he can work through other bodies also. Such a man does not sink in water. He can walk on thorns. He can die at will. When he wills, light can flash from his body. His body can acquire the lightness of air and he can pass from point to point."
When a man is born with these powers it is because he has reached that stage of evolution. There are other powers, but I mention these for they will recall the misnamed "miracles" of the Christian religion (now so discredited) and of
the other great faiths. What if these people were right? What if they were true manifestations of a law forgotten and discredited now in the West and perhaps slipping slowly into oblivion in the Orient?
What if the Indian thinkers were right who said, "The soul is the only reality and we have forgotten it. The body is a dream and the average man thinks he is all body"?
It would follow from that fact that the dimly perceived powers which we call Occult are the natural right and heritage of every man, and the achievement of those who care to develop the seeds latent within them into growth, blossom, and fruit.
It should be remembered that science along various lines is making a steady approach to the certainty that the universe in all its manifestations is not bounded by the conceptions of it presented by our senses. Mathematicians, physicists, all are breaking a way through. It may be distant but they also will one day proclaim the truth so magnificently stated in the ancient books of India:
If India has solved the problem the occult is to be understood and used but with the deep caution that every increased responsibility throws upon a man, for power is always danger or deliverance. In the beginning--the training of the body seems a very little thing for ends so extraordinary--I can only repeat what the greatest Indians have taught: Experiment if you like, but with caution, for many bodies are so degraded and weakened with wrong usage that they can only respond with difficulty and danger or perhaps not at all to a higher law of life. Such must await their hour. The wish to achieve is at all events something which will bear fruit further along the chain of evolution. But remember that the reward of wandering from the right path is perilous in the extreme. A true teacher is needed and experiments should never be attempted alone.
And the warning is issued by a great Indian: "In modern times many so-called teachers of Yoga have arisen in all countries, who are worse
than those of India because the latter know something while these modern exponents know nothing." I repeat that in many sects and groups in the West people are playing with great forces which they do not understand. And much modern psycho-analysis is working on mistaken lines. It deals with the vacillations of the mind and of the subconscious self. Yoga is intended to cultivate that power in the mind of looking back steadily into its own depths and deeper, until every process of the physical, the intellectual, and the psychic lies like an unraveled skein of silk before the student, and the powers, though not the object, are naturally the result of this insight and knowledge.