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The Best of
William Walker Atkinson
First digital edition 2016 by Anna Ruggieri
LESSON 1. EGOHOOD
LESSON 2. ESTABLISHING THE EGO (I)
LESSON 3. ESTABLISHING THE EGO (II)
LESSON 4. ESTABLISHING THE EGO (III)
LESSON 5. WILL-FOCALIZATION
LESSON 6. THE EXCLUDED MIDDLE
LESSON 7. MASTERING THE OPPOSITES.
LESSON 8. NEUTRALIZING RHYTHM.
LESSON 9. CYCLICITY AND BALANCE.
LESSON 10. MENTALISM IN A NUTSHELL.
CHAPTER I. "IN THE BEGINNING"
CHAPTER II. THINGS AS THEY ARE
CHAPTER III. THE UNIVERSALITY OF LIFE AND MIND
CHAPTER IV. LIFE AND MIND AMONG THE ATOMS
CHAPTER V. THE STORY OF SUBSTANCE
CHAPTER VI. SUBSTANCE AND BEYOND
CHAPTER VII. THE PARADOX OF SCIENCE
CHAPTER VIII. THE FORCES OF NATURE
CHAPTER IX. RADIANT ENERGY
CHAPTER X. THE LAW OF ATTRACTION
CHAPTER XI. THE THEORY OF DYNAMIC THOUGHT
CHAPTER XII. THE LAW OF VIBRANT ENERGY
CHAPTER XIII. THE RIDDLE OF THE SPHINX
CHAPTER XIV. THE MYSTERY OF MIND
CHAPTER XIV. THE MYSTERY OF MIND
CHAPTER XV.THE FINER FORCES OF THE MIND
CHAPTER XVI. THOUGHT IN ACTION
LESSON 1 - THE FIRST THREE PRINCIPLES
LESSON 2 - THE MENTAL PRINCIPLES
LESSON 3 - THE SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLES
LESSON 4 - THE HUMAN AURA
LESSON 5 - THOUGHT DYNAMICS
LESSON 6 - TELEPATHY AND CLAIRVOYANCE
LESSON 7 - HUMAN MAGNETISM
LESSON 8 - OCCULT THERAPEUTICS
LESSON 9 - PSYCHIC INFLUENCE
LESSON 10 - THE ASTRAL WORLD
LESSON 11 - BEYOND THE BORDER
LESSON 12 - SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION
LESSON 13 - SPIRITUAL CAUSE AND EFFECT
LESSON 14 - THE YOGI PATH OF ATTAINMENT
MANTRAMS AND MEDITATIONS
THE FIRST LESSON. THE ONE
THE SECOND LESSON. OMNIPRESENT LIFE
THE THIRD LESSON. THE CREATIVE WILL
THE FOURTH LESSON. THE UNITY OF LIFE
THE FIFTH LESSON. THE ONE AND THE MANY
THE SIXTH LESSON. WITHIN THE MIND OF THE ONE
THE SEVENTH LESSON. COSMIC EVOLUTION
THE EIGHTH LESSON. THE ASCENT OF MAN
THE NINTH LESSON. METEMPSYCHOSIS
THE TENTH LESSON. SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION
THE ELEVENTH LESSON. THE LAW OF KARMA
THE TWELFTH LESSON. OCCULT MISCELLANY
CHAPTER II."BREATH IS LIFE"
CHAPTER III.THE EXOTERIC THEORY OF BREATH
CHAPTER IV.THE ESOTERIC THEORY OF BREATH
CHAPTER V.THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
CHAPTER VII.THE FOUR METHODS OF RESPIRATION
CHAPTER VI.NOSTRIL-BREATHING VS. MOUTH-BREATHING
CHAPTER VIII.HOW TO ACQUIRE THE YOGI COMPLETE BREATH
CHAPTER IX.PHYSIOLOGICAL EFFECT OF THE COMPLETE BREATH
CHAPTER X.A FEW BITS OF YOGI LORE
CHAPTER XI.THE SEVEN YOGI DEVELOPING EXERCISES
CHAPTER XII.SEVEN MINOR YOGI EXERCISES
CHAPTER XIII.VIBRATION AND YOGI RHYTHMIC BREATHING
CHAPTER XIV.PHENOMENA OF YOGI PSYCHIC BREATHING
CHAPTER XV.MORE PHENOMENA OF YOGI PSYCHIC BREATHING
CHAPTER XVI.YOGI SPIRITUAL BREATHING
CHAPTER 1 - THE LAW OF VIBRATION
CHAPTER 2 - THOUGHT WAVES
CHAPTER 3 - MENTAL INDUCTION
CHAPTER 4 - MENTAL CONCENTRATION
CHAPTER 5 - MENTAL IMAGING
CHAPTER 6 - FASCINATION
CHAPTER 7 - HYPNOTIC INFLUENCE
CHAPTER 8 - INFLUENCING AT A DISTANCE
CHAPTER 9 - INFLUENCING "EN MASSE"
CHAPTER 10 - THE NEED OF KNOWLEDGE
CHAPTER 11 - MAGIC BLACK AND WHITE
CHAPTER 12 - SELF-PROTECTION
CHAPTER I. THE SUBCONSCIOUS MIND
CHAPTER II. THE SYMPATHETIC SYSTEM
CHAPTER III. THE CELL-MINDS
CHAPTER IV. THE MENTAL BASIS OF CURE
CHAPTER V. THE HISTORY OF PSYCHO-THERAPY
CHAPTER VI. FAITH CURES
CHAPTER VII. THE POWER OF THE IMAGINATION
CHAPTER VIII. BELIEF AND SUGGESTION
CHAPTER IX. PSYCHO-THERAPEUTIC METHODS
CHAPTER X. THE REACTION OF THE PHYSICAL
THE FIRST LESSON. THE COMING OF THE MASTER
THE SECOND LESSON. THE MYSTERY OF THE VIRGIN BIRTH
THE THIRD LESSON. THE MYSTIC YOUTH OF JESUS
THE FOURTH LESSON. THE BEGINNING OF THE MINISTRY
THE FIFTH LESSON. THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORK
THE SIXTH LESSON. THE WORK OF ORGANIZATION
THE SEVENTH LESSON. THE BEGINNING OF THE END
THE EIGHTH LESSON. THE END OF THE LIFE WORK
THE NINTH LESSON. THE INNER TEACHINGS
THE TENTH LESSON. THE SECRET DOCTRINE
THE ELEVENTH LESSON. THE ANCIENT WISDOM
THE TWELFTH LESSON. THE MESSAGE OF THE MASTER
In the "Arcane Lessons" you have seen that the individual is but a Centre of Consciousness and Force in the great Life Principle, Cosmic Will or SPIRIT. As Aphorism XII has informed you: "There is but One Life and not Many Lives. Sepa- is but relative and partial --- illusory --- the creative fiction of the Cosmos. . . In the Cosmic Will there is but One Life in which, and by which, is manifested the Many."
You have also seen that Egohood is evolved and earned --- not given as a universal birthright, or general natural right of the race. As Aphorism XIII has informed you: "The Ego is evolved from the Personal Self. Every living thing possesses a Personal Self, but, even among men, many fail to reach Egohood. Egohood is earned, not bestowed as an universal natural gift. Many personalities are born, but few Egos are evolved."
Egohood is the state of Realization of the Ego --- the Perception and Realization of the I AM. As an old English writer once said: "Whether we try to avoid it or not, we must face this reality some time --- the reality of our own Egohood--that which makes at say 'I,' and in saying 'I' leads to the discovery of a new world."
The average person is surprised, incredulous and even indignant when he is informed that but very few of the race really have this awareness or consciousness of the I AM within them. He will insist that he is fully aware of the existence of the "I," and cannot imagine that any one can have the audacity to dispute the proposition. But a little self examination will reveal the fact that he has but the first glimmering of Self-Consciousness, which is far from being the Consciousness of Egohood. We have no desire or intention of entering into an extended metaphysical inquiry in these pages, but we must point out to you what Egohood is not, as the first step toward showing you what it is, and how it may he acquired.
The very elementary life-forms have merely the consciousness of "something outside" evidenced in sensation or feeling. The atoms manifest a faint degree of awareness (consciousness) of other atoms, which is evidenced in attraction and repulsion. There is in chemical affinity a higher degree of elementary consciousness. The crystals manifest a still higher degree in their activities of building-up form. The cell-forms of the lowest animal and plant life show an awareness of objects of food and of other forms which seek them for food --- and consequently they move toward the first, and away from the second. Rising in the evolutionary scale we find rampantly increasing degrees of consciousness. Among the higher animals, and the lower forms of men, we find what science has called "simple-consciousness," by which is indicated that awareness of outside objects, accompanied by a greater or lesser degree of reasoning regarding them. The dog, horse, and other higher animals give us a typical example of this form of consciousness, which degree is but little surpassed by the less developed of the human race, many of the latter not having advanced further in the scale. Simple-consciousness may be described as a state of knowing, but not knowing that one knows. it is a consciousness of outside things received through the senses, and also of the physical sensations arising in one's own body.
But, as man advanced in the scale there came to him the degree of consciousness which is known as "self-consciousness," in which the sense of "I" comes to him --- he differentiates between the Self and the Not-Self, as he understands it. He not only knows, but he begins to know that he knows. He begins to understand that he has a "knowing machine" by means of which he knows, thinks and is consciousness. The mental gaze, in this stage, begins to turn itself inward as well as outward. But the majority of the race possess this self-consciousness to but a limited degree. As a leading psychologist has well said: "Many persons never have more than a misty idea of such a mental attitude. They take themselves for granted, and never turn the gaze inward." Self-consciousness, like simple-consciousness, has many degrees on its scale. One has but to study his fellow men in order to perceive these varying degrees. We cannot pause here to consider this stage in detail --- our concern is with higher degrees.
In a general way, and in order that you may make the clear distinction between simple-consciousness and self-consciousness, we suggest that you think of the former as an awareness of the outside world, and one's own physical being, and of the latter as an awareness of one's own mind.Or, the former may be thought of as physical consciousness, and the latter as mental consciousness.
But, here and there among the multitude of men are evolved a few who have attained a higher stage of consciousness --- the Ego-Consciousness, or consciousness of Egohood --- which surpassing the physical-consciousness and the mental-consciousness, just alluded to, may be styledspiritual consciousness. For the Ego-Consciousness is really the consciousness of Spirit, in an elementary degree --- there are many other and higher degrees.
Ego-Consciousness, or Realization of Egohood, is more than an awareness of the outside world, or of one's own body as distinct from the bodies of others and other things. It is more than even the awareness of one's own mind, even when this awareness is carried to a high degree of development. It is difficult to describe this plane of consciousness to those who have not attained it, but it may be stated as an awareness of Individuality, rather than an awareness of Personality.
Personality is but the character in which the One Life is playing a certain part. As we have said in The Arcane Lessons, the very word "person" is derived from the Greek word persona, meaning "a mask used by actors."
Your personality is merely the part in life you are playing --- "the John Smith part of you." And, consequently, the awareness of Personality is merely an awareness or consciousness of your own personal character, just as an actor is aware and conscious of the character of the play he is enacting. If you can imagine the actor forgetting his real Self, and becoming so earnest and wrapt in the play that he imagines that he really is Hamlet or Richard III, or Mephistopheles, you may gain a clearer idea of the state of consciousness of the man on the plane of Personal Consciousness. When he shakes off the illusion, and realizes that he is something more than the assumed character --- when you awaken to the fact that you are something more than "John Smith," --- then the personality is seen to be in reality but an assumed character, or "mask used by actors."
The Consciousness of Individuality is an awareness by man that he is above the limits and character of Personality --- that he is a Centre of Consciousness and Force in them One Cosmic Life. This awareness must, however, be more than a mere intellectual acquiescence in the teaching to that effect, or an agreement with some teacher. Important as these steps are in approaching the realization, they are but foot-hills above which tower the mountains of the real Cosmic Knowing. The individual must know that he is an individual --- just as he knows anything that he has experienced. For indeed, he must really experience the fact that he is an EgoCentre in the Cosmic Life or Spirit He must realize that he is more than body and mind --- that he is, indeed, Spirit in SPIRIT. No mere intellectual acquiescence or understanding will supply the real experience of Egohood.
It is not necessary for one to have experienced Cosmic Consciousness--or the awareness of his identity with the Cosmic Spirit as a whole --- to gain Egohood. This experience belongs to a higher stage. The Individual must, however, experience the realization that he is an Ego --- a spiritual entity, before he attains Egohood. Many grow into this stage naturally and by slow and gradual steps --- in fact all development must be along natural lines. One cannot be dragged or pulled up into this stage --- one must grow into it naturally, as the plant develops and blooms into flower. But --- and here is an important point, and one upon which depends the usefulness of these lessons --- there are many who are ready and prepared to throw off the sheath of personality and to enter into the fuller life of Egohood, who are struggling with the confining bonds of Personality which they find hard to throw off. To these, and to these only, the methods and exercises, herein given, will appeal. If they appeal to you --- if they attract you and you hunger to put them into effect --- then know that you are ready for them, and ready to throw off the confining sheaths that are binding you and holding you back.
As we proceed, you will see that in this Realization of Egohood lies the Secret of Attainment --- the Key of Power. Before you can exercise the Power of Spirit, you must realize that you are Spirit Spirit is the Succor of the Cosmos. The Ego is a focal point or centre in that Essence.
To "establish" is "to settle or fix firmly; to make steady, firm, or stable; to place upon a firm foundation; to ordain permanently and with authority;" etc. Therefore is this Formula --- one of the oldest known to Occultism --- called establishing the Ego. Its mastery imparts the sense and power of firm settlement and steady foundation of the consciousness of the Ego --- the identification of the self with the Self.
The Arcane Teachers instruct the Neophyte that he must first of all develop this awareness of the Ego, by degree, until at last the Ego-Consciousness may become the habitual and natural consciousness, at all times and under all conditions. Once firmly fixed, the Ego-Consciousness never leaves one. Once found, it becomes a Tower of Strength in which one may ever take refuge from the trials of the personal life --- and from which one may safely defy the things of personality.
The first step of the Formula is that of acquiring a clear, distinct, positive and absolute realization that the Ego is not the body or physical organism, but is superior to and master of them. Even those students who have entered the plane of Mental Consciousness require additional drilling in order to escape completely and fully from the bonds of the physical body. The following exercise is recommended for this purpose:
Let the Neophyte place himself in a quiet place, away from the disturbances and distracting influences of the outside world. Let him assume a position of rest, relaxing the tension from muscles and nerves. Then, let him fix his attention upon his physical body; first the body as a whole, and then beginning at the feet let him move the attention upward until. the whole body has been included in attention, step by step, until the brain is reached. During this process the Neophyte will become aware, by degrees, that he is a Something inside of the body, body, viewing and considering the latter in all of its details, instead of being identical with the body. There will be found a dawning realization that the body is but the physical envelope or sheath in which the Ego dwells --- or a garment which the Ego has assumed for the conveniences of physical life. This realization will not come all at once, but will gradually dawn upon and in the consciousness, increasing by practice. When a degree of proficiency and realization of this stage has been acquired, then may the Neophyte proceed to the next stage, as follows:
Let the Neophyte now concentrate his attention upon his feet, until he is able to regard them as but tools or instruments whereby the Ego may walk in physical form. Then let him, using his imagination, realize that even if his feet were not there, attached to the body, the Ego would still be fully existent and in being --- that, although deprived of useful tools, the Ego would still be the Ego, unimpaired and undisturbed in its real being.
Then bring the entire lower limbs into attention, and after fixing them firmly in consciousness, let the Neophyte realize that these limbs are but instruments for physical progress --- useful and important, but not indispensable to the being and reality of the Ego. Let him see that if these limbs were not there that the Ego would still be, complete and fully existent.
Then, let the Neophyte bring into attention the pelvic organs (the reproductive organism, etc.) and, after realizing their uses and purposes --- important to physical life --- let him realize that the integrity and being of the Ego is in no way dependent upon them. Let him, in imagination, separate himself from them in consciousness, and thus realize that even if that part of the body were removed, and missing, nevertheless the Ego would be fully existent in its entirety of being.
Then let the Neophyte, in a similar manner, consider the abdominal organs --- the stomach, liver, etc. --- and while realizing their value and utility in physical life, let him also realize that they, too, are but physical instruments of the Ego for certain purposes, and that the Ego would dwell unimpaired in being, existence and reality, were they absent.
Then let the Neophyte likewise consider the chest organs, the lungs, etc., and while respecting and realizing their usefulness and wonderful adaptability to purpose, also realize that the Ego would be full existent and real recoil these organs or parts of the body were absent.
Then let the Neophyte pass on to the consideration of the head, with its various organs of sense; its brain centres and convolutions --- the machinery of thought, and then realize that although it would be impossible to live as a physical being in the body without these organs, still if they were absent the Ego would still be the Ego --- complete, existent, in reality, with integrity unimpaired.
Then let the Neophyte again consider the whole body, as one organism --- the wonderful instrument of the Ego, adapted for physical life. But let him fully realize that this wonderful machinery is but a created machine in and through which the Ego manifests physical life and activity. And, that the Ego is above, independent of and apart from the physical body, in the true sense --- for it may dwell apart from, and out of the body.
After performing these mental exercises, throw the mind into and over the entire body and into and through all of its parts --- the purpose of this concluding process being to re-energize the physical organism which has, in a measure, become devitalized during the analytical process. You will find that you will be able to re-charge the body with vitality and make it stronger and more virile than it was before the exercise, after you once realized that it is but an instrument, or machine, which is used by and directed by the Ego. The realization of the Mastery of the Body by the Ego brings with it a new power of energizing and vitalizing the body or any part thereof. Throwing the attention to parts of the body, after this realization has been gained, tends to direct to the particular parts an increased supply of Vril or Vital Energy.
After having mastered the above exercise to a satisfactory degree, let the Neophyte pass on to the following exercise:
Let the Neophyte, in imagination, leave the physical body and gaze upon the latter. A little mental practice will enable one to do this in imagination, thus bringing fully to the mind the realization that it is possible for the Ego to leave the body and dwell apart from it. When the mind has once grasped this possibility, the body will ever after be recognized as merely a physical machine, sheath or covering, of the Ego --- and one will never again commit the folly of identifying the "I" with the physical body.
To those who may object that this is merely an exercise of the imagination, proving nothing, for the reason that "one may imagine anything," we suggest the trial of the old Occult Test whereby the Neophyte was instructed to try to imagine himself as dead. A trial will show that this is impossible --- all that can be imagined in this direction is that the physical body is dead, while the soul either (!) stands apart, fully alive, viewing the body; or else (2) inhabits the dead body --- in either case it being the physical body alone which is dead, the Ego being always alive.
Then let the Neophyte imagine himself as leaving behind his physical body, until, as Holmes says: ". . . Thou at length are free, leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea." Let him then imagine himself as occupying other and different bodies, one at a time, in different phases of life and condition, in different ages, etc. This will bring about a realization that the Ego is something higher and independent of the particular physical shell or machine that it is now using, and which it may have at one time considered identical with itself. Then will the particular body occupied seem, in reality, "my body," instead of "I," or "Me."
The Neophyte is cautioned against learning to despise his body when be realizes that it is not his "self." The body is to be respected and well cared for, for it is a necessary instrument for expression at this period of the evolution of the Ego. Do not make the mistake of so many who have grasped half-truths, and who despise their bodies. This is a great mistake, and we would warn all Neophytes against it. The physical body is the bridge which is carrying you over a wild stream --- do not undervalue it --- treat it well, with loving regard and care. The physical body is the Temple of the Spirit --- make it a worthy one. Keep it clean and in good condition. Let it be a worthy dwelling place of the Most High.
The practice of the exercises indicated by the Formulas described in the preceding lesson, if carefully and faithfully practiced, will give to the Neophyte a new sense of existence. He will realize by actual mental experience that he --- the Ego --- is an entity having its existence on a plane higher than that of the physical body, and superior to the latter. He will also experience a realization of the power of mastery over the physical body, which he may employ in the direction of mentally treating the latter for physical wrong functioning, weakness, or irregularities of any and all kinds. With a little practice he will be able to make his physical body a mast responsive instrument of his mind and will, and may build it up and strengthen it as he may desire. This power, once acquired, will also enable him to treat the physical bodies of others to excellent advantage. When the Neophyte actually realizes that he is independent of, and superior to, the physical body, he will realize that he has the power to command his physical functions, and those of others who have not attained the realization.
But let not the Neophyte make the natural mistake at this point, of considering that he has escaped the bonds of Personality --- for he has not. The Arcane Teachers first free their Neophytes from the trammels and retarding influences of the physical body, and in thus doing build up a still higher sense of Personality. Later, this higher sheath is, in turn, discarded, and the Ego focalizes upon its spiritual nature--its individuality. But the step of building up the incorporeal higher Personality must be attained before the next higher is possible. There 0 Neophyte, be not in too much haste to pass on to the next step. Master each step as you proceed --- thus do you rise naturally and easily on the Ladder of Attaintment.
Following the exercises indicated in the preceding lesson, the Neophyte may now proceed with the work of Establishing the Ego, in its first stages, as follows:
Placing himself in a position and condition of ease and repose, let the Neophyte meditate on the incidents of In corporeality, or Life independent of the Physical Body. Thinking of oneself as a physical being, one naturally and properly takes into account the incidents of corporeality or life in the body. For instance, be realizes that he may be hurt by fire, water, earth, air or ether. He may be 'burned by fire, drowned by water, smothered or bruised by earth, swept away by air, or injured by ethereal vibrations such as electricity, etc. And, again, he may be wounded, meet with physical accidents, laid low by sickness, etc. These are the incidents of Corporeal Life.
But, in meditation, by using the imagination intelligently, he is brought to a retaliation that none of these incidents are in effect upon the plane of the Incorporeal Life. Meditation and intelligent imagination will show the Neophyte that in his Astral Body he might pass through her unscathed --- through water untouched --- through earth without hurt or interference --- through air without being swept off his feet --- through the ether without regard to ethereal vibrations. None of these things of the physical plane have any effect upon the Astral Body, or disembodied Ego. In some of the ancient occult initiatory rites the Neophyte was taken out of his physical body, and in his Astral form was bidden to plunge himself in the flames of the hottest fiery furnace; to throw himself from the highest precipice; to drop into a bottomless lake. Not realizing that these things could not affect him in his Astral form, and being bound up with the memory of the Corporeal Life, the Neophyte would often shrink from the tests. But after being encouraged by example and precept he would submit to the test, joyfully, with a laugh on his lips, as he realized that to him in his Astral form these corporeal things were nonexistent --- mere dreams of the physical plane.
Of course the actual experience in the Astral is far more convincing than is the mere realization of the truth in meditation, but the latter must not be despised for it gives one an intuitive realization of the truth, which, once attained, tends to destroy fear and to impart a new sense of courage, invincibility and invulnerability and mastery, which permeates the entire being and causes one to radiate power and strength.
Likewise will come the realization that the Ego, in itself, is incapable of hurt, harm, wounds, or sickness. These things belong to the Corporeal Life, and have naught to do with the Higher Self.
The Neophyte is enjoined to persevere and practice until he gains the actual experience and recognition that his Higher Self --- his Real Self --- is superior to all the incidents and accidents of the Corporeal Life, and that let come what will to his physical covering he, himself, is unhurt, whole, untouched, undisturbed.
An old Arcane Teacher, over two thousand years ago, was once told that the world was coming to an end. "Well, what is that to me!" he replied, resuming his study. He realized fully his invincibility. A similar tale is told of Emerson, who was halted in the street by an excited Millerite, who informed him, in strained tones: "Mr. Emerson, the world will be destroyed in ten days!" "Well, what of it" replied Emerson, calmly, "I don't see but what we shall get along just as well without it." The Nineteenth Century Transcendentalist voiced the truth as clearly as did his predecessor in Ancient Greece. The sense and realization must be experienced before it can be understood. It may be realized by practicing the Formulas, as given herein.
The next step indicated by the Formulas, is that of Focalizing the Consciousness on the Ego. This is still within the realm of Personality, but on a very high plane of that realm --- a plane which gradually blends into the higher plane of Individuality. It consists of bringing about an acute realization of one's existence as a Centre of Consciousness and Force. It tends to gather up the dissipated sense of personal existence, and bringing it to a focal point, into vivid and actual conscious realization, preparatory to it being transmuted into the higher sense of individual existence. The following exercise will tend to bring about the desired realization:
Let the Neophyte place himself in a position, and condition, of rest and calm. Let him then meditate upon the great Ocean of Life in which the individual entities are but focal Centres of Consciousness and Force. Let him picture himself, in imagination, as being an actual CENTRE, with all the universe revolving around him. Let him see himself as the pivot around which the universe moves --- the Central Sun around which the infinite world and planets circle in their cosmic flight. Let him feel himself to be the Focal Centre of the Cosmos. And this is indeed, in accordance with the centuries old occult axiom which informs us that The Cosmos is infinite --- its circumference is nowhere --- its centre is everywhere." Let the Neophyte lose all thought of the outside world, in this meditation, --- let him regard it as totally unmanifest if he likes -- but see HIMSELF in Actual Existence and in Full Power. Let him realize "I AM" to the fullest extent of his power of imagination and conception.
A student of the Arcane Lessons has written us of his experience in this stage of Realization. We quote from his letter, for it affords a typical instance of the phenomenon of the Establishing the EgoCentre. He says: "On first reading, the Arcane Lessons appeared to 'wipe out' my 'I,' and to cause it to disappear within the One Life whets it resolved itself into the Infinity of Nothingness, at the end of the Cosmic Day. Right here, I began to 'sit up and take notice,' with the result that my 'I' in a fierce effort to preserve itself from going to sleep, shone with such fierceness, clearness, and determination, that all was an Infinity of Nothingness right then. There was nothing remaining but just 'I.'
Then I fully understood how the One Life could go to rest at the end of the Cosmic Day, and how 'I' would be the awful lone witness of its rest. I had made the separation of the One Life and the Real Life, or distinguished the Manifested Life from the Un manifest." We quote this testimony because it brings out several steps in the evolution of the "I AM" conception. This student passed through the several stages at one leap --- attaining in rapid succession the realization of the Centre, and then, immediately following, the realization of the impersonal or Individual Ego, or Real Self, this latter stage forming the subject of our next lesson.
The now familiar occult statement of "I AM!" should be used freely in practicing these exercises, for it tends to bring out the actual realization of Real Egohood which is the aim and goal of the Formulas. The statement has been used by the Arcane Teachers, and other advanced Occultists in all lands, for thousands of years. Its recent use is but a revival of the ancient initiatory exercises and rites. It is a tremendous Statement of Being --- and should be used reverently and with awe.
In the preceding lessons we have directed your attention to the process of mentally freeing oneself from the restrictions imposed by the illusory identification of the Self or Ego with the physical body --- the Corporeal Self. If the Neophyte has caught the spirit of the Formulas, and has put the same into practice, he will have at least evolved into a partial consciousness or realization of the Incorporeal Self.
But even this is but the first step toward Freedom and Attainment. Even with the highest conception of the Incorporeal Self, when the latter is bound by the illusion of Personality, one fails to realize his true Egohood. Only when the bonds of Personality are loosened, does the Ego begin to realize its true nature.
Just as one is bound by the illusion of the corporeal nature of the "I," so is it further bound --- and even more closely bound --- by the illusion of the personal nature of the Ego. The Ego is not only more, and greater, than the physical body it uses --- but it is also more, and greater, than that part of the mind, consisting of a series of inherited or acquired impressions which constitutes the "Me." There is a great difference between the "Me and the I." The "Me" is the individual as he thinks he is--- a bundle of prejudices, tastes, ties, etc. The "I" is the Individual as he is in reality --- free from mental ties of all kinds. The "Me" is the character being played by the Ego --- the "John Smith" part of him. The "I" is the real player of the part. It is often very difficult for one to disentangle and free himself from the overwhelming force of Personality, so completely is the average person self-hypnotized and race-hypnotized with the "John Smith" idea. The Arcane Teachers have several Formulas for unloosening the bonds of Personality. Let us consider them.
Let the Neophyte place himself in a position, and condition, of restful, calm repose. Then let him take mental stock of himself. Let him ask himself the question: "What am I?" He will find, upon self-examination, that he considers himself to be a certain person --- "John Smith," for instance, "aged 45, grocer, of Cincinnati, Ohio." This "John Smith" has a "character" of his own, which he supposes to be himself. Laying aside the illusion of the appearance, shape, form, etc., of the body, he will still find that he has decided personal characteristics. He likes certain things --- he hatescertain others. He is tied tight by his likes and dislikes, his loves and hates, his tendencies, his general "nature" and "characteristics" in short. He imagines that these things are himself, and that if they were taken away from him, he would cease to exist.
Then let him proceed as he did when divorcing himself from the illusion of the Corporeal Self. Let him set aside first one like, and then another --- first one hate, and then another. Let him, in imagination, visualize himself as being divested of first one "characteristic" and then another. As the process continues, the Neophyte will find, much to his surprise, that notwithstanding that his most cherished and firmly rooted "characteristics" are sheared away from him, he HIMSELF remains. He finds that when all his mental feelings, as well as objects thereof, are removed from his mental vision, he, HIMSELF, remains. HE will find a Something remaining that is back of, underneath, and at the centre of all these "feelings" and "characteristics,. and which persists in full vigor when they have been stripped away from him.
Then let him, mentally, in imagination, see himself as acting out other characters. He will find that he is able to play out Hamlet, Richard III, Mephistopheles, Micawber, and a host of other characters, as well as he has been playing the old "John Smith" part, which he has been imagining was Himself. He will then see that just as the body was but an instrument and covering, to is this habitual "character" but an instrument and mental covering --- useful but not essential to his being --- something that can be put on, and taken off --- something that could be exchanged without affecting the "I." He will realize that this "character" is but his "Me" --- and that he may have other "Me's" at will. But the "I" remains the same in each case.
But, try as he may, he will never be able to shake off or discard the "I." He will find that this "I" is unchangeable, and cannot be gotten rid of --- for it is Himself, his Real Self. He will find this same "I" always at the centre of every "character" he assumes --- always behind every mask he places before him. He will find that it will always be the same old "I," of which he can always, and must always, say "I AK" No one can truthfully assert of his Real Self, "I AM NOT." Such a statement is always a lie upon the face of Truth. One may say "I am not this, or I am not that" --- but he can never say of that Central "I," that it is not.
This "I" is always the Actor --- the Doer --- the Seer --- the Thinker. It is always the Centre. Divest it of every characteristic, and there will always remain that Something that IS.
This "I" is absolutely subjective, or inner --- all else is objective, or outer, to it It cannot be classified with any mental state --- for all mental states are objective to it. It cannot be described in terms of objective consciousness, for these terms denote things subordinate to it. We are conscious of it, not through any channel of sense, or feeling, --- it impresses itself upon us directly. We cannot separate ourselves from it --- for it is the Self, itself. We cannot stand of and examine it, cur set it off for examination --- for where it is so must we be, for the two are one. It is never subjective to anything else in us --- but everything else in us is objective to it. It may, in our ignorance, be influenced and moved by our feelings, emotions, etc. --- but when we know the Truth it turns on these feelings and emotions, and changes, kills, or creates them. It is at the basis of all activities --- it is identical with the will. Divorce this "I" of all its mental "characteristics," feelings and emotions--and instead of seeming weakened, it is increased in strength. It then appears as untrammeled, and unrestricted will.
It gives and ran give, but two reports of itself : (1) it must always, and does always say of itself : "I AM"; (2) it must always say, and does always say, of itself : "I DO." This is all. This is what the "I" is --- the Something that IS, and Something that DOES. All the rest of the mental furniture belongs to the "Me," and is changeable, inconstant, and shifting. The "I" is always the same --- there is nothing else for it to be.
By practicing this "mental stock-taking," and self-examination, the Neophyte will soon be able to at least partially divorce his "I" from his "Me" --- at least he will be able to do so in imagination, sufficiently to testify to the different elements of the two. Other Formulas, in this book will aid him in this attainment. For this is the Centre and Heart of all Attainment. It is the one thing, which, when found, gives us the key to all the rest, The following exercise is also taught by the Arcane Teachers and other advanced Occultists. In connection with the others given in this book, it will serve to loosen the bonds and ties of Personality, and enable the Neophyte to spread the Wings of the Self, and soar in the free ether of Individuality.
Let the Neophyte place himself in a position and condition of calm, restful repose. Then let him meditate upon his own identity, as distinguished from the outside objective world. Let him reach mentally into the very centre of his being --- the inner recesses of his soul, until he meets his Real Self face-to-face. Let him, in this meditation, repeat softly to himself his own name --- that is, the name which he applies to himself at times when he thinks of himself in the third person. Or, else, his favorite "short name" or familiar "nickname," such as "Jim," or "Will," or "Jack," etc. --- in short, the name which he most familiarly identifies with himself. Let him repeat this name over and over again, softly, to himself, throwing into it his earnest attention as if in that name, or word, were contained the Secret of His Existence. In many cases the Neophyte will find that he is lifted up to a higher plane of being or consciousness, in which he sees more clearly the Light Within, and hears a few strains from the great Song of Life. If the experiment succeeds, he will realize, as never before, the reality of the "I" --- the Secret of the Ego.
Rudyard Kipling, in his great story of Hindu life, entitled "Kim," speaks of this practice familiar among Oriental people. He describes his hero, "Kim," attempting to gain this state of consciousness. We quote from this book, as follows:
"A very few white people, but many Asiatic's, can throw themselves unto a amazement, as it were, by repeating their own names over and over again to themselves, letting the mind go free upon speculation as to what is called personal identity "'Who is Kim --- Kim --- Kim " He squatted in a comer of the clanging waiting room, rapt from all other thoughts, hands folded in lap, and pupils contracted to pin-points, In a moment --- hi another half-second --- he felt that he would arrive at the solution of the tremendous puzzle, but here, as always happens, his mind dropped away from those heights with the rush of a wounded bird, and passing his hand before his eyes, he shook his head. "A long-haired Hindu bairagi (holy-man) who had just bought a ticket, halted before him at that moment, and stared intently. 'I also have lost ' he said sadly. "It is one of the gates of the Way.' "'What is thy talk?" said Kim, abashed. "'Thou was wondering there in thy spirit what manner of thing thy soul might be . . . I know. Who should know but I?"
Tennyson, the great English poet, in his letters to and conversations with his intimate friends and relatives, terrified to having experiences of this kind, occasioned by repeating his name to himself in a manner resembling the practice of the ancient secularists, and of the Hindus of to-day, as mentioned in "Kim." He stated that he was lifted into another world in which he was given a positive assurance of his spiritual nature and immortality --- a condition in which the fear of death became laughable. He also stated the same idea in the following verses:
"And more, my son, for more than once when I Sat all alone, revolving in myself That word which is the symbol of myself, The mortal symbol of the self was loosed, And passed into the Nameless, as a cloud Melts into Heaven. I touched my limbs, the limbs Were strange, not mine --- and yet no shadow of doubt, But utter dearness, and through loss of Self The gain of such large life as matched with ours Were Sun to spark, unshakeable in words, Themselves but shadows of a shadow-world"
The Neophyte who has advanced to the stage in which, in the ancient Occult parlance, he "has found himself," has discovered that his Real Self is something far different from anything that he ever had imagined it to be. Instead of being an entity with distinctly marked characteristics and personal peculiarities, he discovers that it is a something the nature of which can be stated only in the sense of Potentiality. We do not mean for a moment that the Ego is existent only in a potential sense --- on the contrary, it is actually existent in the most extreme and positive sense. In fact, its existent being is endowed with such a degree of actuality that all else seems to fade into relative non-existence. There is no question of "I Am Not" about the Ego --- it is first, last and always a Something of which the positive AM" can, and must be, asserted. It is only when we come to examine the nature, attributes and qualities of this "I AM" Ego, that we are forced to use the terms of Potentiality instead of actuality. Let us consider this a little further, for in its understanding lies the solution of many occult paradoxes.
In the first place, if we are keen analytics, and understand the precise terms of philosophical psychology, we will are that the Formulas for Establishing the Ego, and the practice of the exercises arising there from, have divorced from the Ego the usual attributes, characteristics and personal peculiarities which are popularly supposed to belong to, and to be inseparably connected with it. Setting aside as the "Not I" first one feeling and then another; first one emotion and then another; first one characteristic and then another; first one personal peculiarity and then another; and placing them in turn in the "Not I" category --- the Neophyte finds that after he has stripped the Ego of all the attributes of Personality, there is still a Something left --- an irreducible element --- an insoluble residuum --- a surd, or something which while actually existent yet is incapable of being described, expressed or designated by rational terms --- a final algebraical s, or Unknown Ultimate Element. As to the existence of this Unknown Element, or Ego, there is no doubt in the Occult Teachings, differ as the modern philosophies may about the matter --- moreover, it is a matter which may be determined by the conscious experience of any one who will practice the exercises of the Formulas, in the proper way. The "I AM" will always be found at the centre of the self, and will always respond "I AM!"
But when we attempt to describe this Ultimate "I" --- when we attempt to endow it with attributes, qualities, or peculiarities, then do we find ourselves at sea, for these things all belong to the plane of Personality, while the "I" transcends Personality, and cannot be expressed or designated in the terms of the latter. But, nevertheless there is found a way of identifying the "I." Philosophical psychology, both occult and popular --- both esoteric and exoteric --- gives us a term whereby we may discuss and consider the "I," or Ultimate Element of Self. This "I," which we have stated as the final algebraical x, or unknown ultimate element of the Self, is found to be identical with the highest philosophical and psychological conception of what has been called the Will. Thus the x equals The Will. Let us then try to understand the "I" by considering what the highest human thought reports regarding the Will. By studying the symbol we may understand the reality.
Brushing aside as unworthy the popular conception of the Will, we find that the highest philosophical and psychological thought uses the term "The Will" to designate the underlying Essence of Being --- the fundamental life-mind-spirit principle of the Self. The Ancient Greek Philosophers so used the term; the original Buddhist philosophy so employs it; we find it to used by eminent thinkers all through the history of philosophical thought; Schopenhauer, Nietsche and Wundt used the term in this sense. The Arcane Teachers identified the Principle of Will with SPIRIT --- the Essence--the "beingness" of Being. The Will is that Essence or Spirit, in the Cosmos and in the individual, which is ever moving, changing its manifestations, flowing, evolving, proceeding, desiring, attaining, seeking, accomplishing. It contains within itself the potentiality of Everything, but it itself cannot be mid to be any of the things it manifests.
Prof. William Sturgis Bigelow, in his lecture on "Buddhism and Immortality," delivered in Harvard University, 1908, (Published by Houghton Mifflin Company, New York), beautifully states the esoteric conception of Will, in describing the Buddhist conception of life and immortality. We take great pleasure in calling your attention to the following quotations from the mid lecture. Prof. Bigelow says:
"We are all, as we familiarly say, conscious of our own existence. Under this statement we habitually include, in more or less confusion, several distinct elements.
First, the existence of our material body as objects of sensory perception . . .
Second, of certain sensations, pleasurable or painful, originating not outside but inside the body itself.
Third, of certain disturbances . . that we classify as passions or emotions.
Fourth, of what we call aptitudes and their opposites. Fifth, of desires or inclinations and their opposite.
Lastly, of something of a wholly different character, consciously closer to the centre than anything else, and differing from the other forms in being the only forro of consciousness to which we are not pumice. This we call Will.
We say, I feel sensation, pain or emotion; but we never say, I feel my Will. It is always subjective and active. . . . This Will is a part of the normal consciousness of each one of you, yet it is neither a part of sensation nor emotion, but, on the contrary, is capable of dominating both. What is it? Ask your own consciousness. Sensations originate outside and inside the body; emotions, inside But the Will is deeper than either, and they are both objective to it We cannot classify it with anything else. We cannot describe it in terms of any other form of consciousness. We are conscious through our bodies and of our bodies, but the consciousness of the Will is direct We cannot separate ourselves from it. We cannot stand off and examine it. We cannot modify it by anything else. It itself modifies everything within its scope. Other forms of consciousness are objective to it, but it is never objective to them. It may be overpowered by sensations, emotions, or passions, through its own weakness or their strength. It often is. But its attitude towards them, whether resisting or directing them, is always, essentially and necessarily active. It exists in no other form than the subjective form. It is inconceivable in any other form. If it is not active, it is not Will. There is nothing in our consciousness deeper. It underlies and overlies and permeates all other forms, and, moreover, --- what is of immeasurably more importance, --- it me if need be, create them, . . .Will is the assertion of a form of consciousness from the centre outward. When this is opposed by another form of consciousness, intruding from the circumference inward, we recognize a hindrance to the free action of the Will, and we talk of 'necessity'. But such intrusive forms . . come from or through . . . the material, separate personality. If it were not for these the Will would net freely. The separate personal consciousness with its offshoots is, therefore, the only obstacle to complete freedom of the Will Complete freedom of the Will is complete freedom of consciousness, and complete freedom of consciousness front the habitual and empirical limitations of personality is complete freedom of the Will. The terms are interchangeable. The only Will that is-not free is the personal Will. Descartes said, 'I think, therefore, I am.' It is an imperfect formula at best but it would have been a better statement . . . had he said, 'I Will, therefore I am.'"
Thus do we find that the Ego, or "I" is, in its last possible human analysis, WILL And; thus do we find that Will is in the nature of Potential Infinite-Manifestation of All-Activity --- the Essential Being of all Being --- the Plastic Es.nce which may mould itself into any and all forms --- the Essence of Activity which may manifest how and as it pleas., under The LAW always.
As we said in Lesson XII, of The Arcane Teaching: Running back from cause to prior cause, and to still more remote precedent causes of his desires, the Individual finds himself at last confronting the Cosmic Will. Retracing his path back to the present, he finds himself confronting his Personal Will which is moved by Desire. In other words, he finds a Chain of Desire extending from the Cosmic Will to the Personal Will --- a chain of countless links, having a beginning in Will, and ending in Will --- an Endless Chain, because it is a Circle. Thereupon he learns the first lesson of the Arcane Secret of the Excluded Middle, and thenceforth strives to realize the union of the two ends of Will. From the realization of this Union arises the Individual Will --- the Positive Will of the Ego. In this process the Law of Cause and Effect is not violated, but WILL is made the Cause of Will --- the Cause and Effect merge. When this is attained --- then does Man indeed become the Master!
IN CLOSING the preceding lesson, we referred to the Secret of the Excluded Middle. This is one of the most ancient and fundamental formulas of the Secret Doctrine or Arcane Teaching of the ancient occult fraternities. It was regarded as the Keystone of the Mystic Arch. Those who grasp the inner spirit of this Secret are, as the Aphorism informs us, "well on the road to Mastery." Let us refer you to Aphorism XX, at this place.
The Aphorism informs us that: "When a man attains Individuality-Egohood-he enters upon the plane of Will, and rises above the plane of Desire. Desire and Will are the opposite poles of the same principle—the Centre of Balance being Reason. On the plane of Will, though one remains under Law, yet he may learn to use Law instead of remaining passive to it. He may learn to oppose Law to laws. He may learn to create Desire by Will. Furthermore— and this is the greatest of all—he may learn to Will to Will. He may learn to complete the Circle of Will. He may learn the Secret of the Excluded Middle. When this last Secret is learned, man is well on the road to Mastery."
We have seen, in the Arcane Teaching, that from the Cosmic Will, which is the Principle of Will, the Cosmos has been evolved. We have seen how this evolution has progressed under the Law of Orderly Trend and Logical Sequence, the active principle of which has been Desire, which is but the negative pole of Will. We have seen that there is an unbroken chain of Sequence extending from the Cosmic Will to the "I" which latter is but a focalized Centre of Will in the great Cosmic Will.
At the personal or individual end of this unbroken chain, we find the "I" or Individual Will But we find that this Individual Will is conditioned, restricted, bound and hampered by the accumulated sheath of evolutionary growth, to the extent of even doubting its own identity or nature. The idea of separateness has crept in, and the "I" fails to realize that it is identical in nature and substance with the great Cosmic Will, in which it is a Centre or Focal Point. So entangled is it in the bonds of Personality—so deluded by the illusions of the 'John Smith" nature and characteristics; that it imagines itself to be a thing apart. It feels the personal conscious on all sides, and actually imagines that it, the "I," is really this bundle of mental states, impressions and ideas that belong to "John Smith." It has exchanged its Cosmic Birthright for the humble Mess of Pottage of Personality.
The Hindus tell a tale of one of the great gods—Indra—who, following a caprice, incarcerated himself in the body of a pig. He took unto himself a pig mate, and raised a brood of little pigs. He lost all sense of his own identity, and was thoroughly hypnotized with the idea that he was a pig. The fellow-gods, grieved at his illusion and his pitiful state, called upon him to come out of the pig-state, telling him that he was a great god and not a swinish creature wallowing in the mud. He grunted out a denial, saying: "I am a pig, not a god—let me alone!" They persisted, and he continued to repel them. They killed his pig-mate, and his little pigs, but he squealed out his sorrow and rage, and tried to destroy the gods in his wrath. Finally they killed his pig-body, as a last resort, and lo! Indra, the god, stepped forth in all his glorious power, and laughed in astonishment when he realized the extent and degree of his late illusion." By this parable, the Hindu teachers impress upon their chelas the fact of their Real Self.
A well-known occult writer. in her little compilation of the ancient teachings, entitled "Light on the Path," says: "Seek in the heart the source of evil (the illusion of Personality) and expunge it. It lives fruitfully in the heart of the devoted disciple, as well as in the heart of the man of desire. Only the strong can kill it out. The weak must wait for its growth, its fruition, its death. And it is a plant that lives and increases throughout the ages. It flowers when man has accumulated unto himself innumerable existences. He who will enter upon this path of power must tear this thing out of his heart. And then his heart will bleed, and the whole life of the man seem to be utterly dissolved. This ordeal must be endured; it may come at the first step of the perilous ladder which leads to the path of life; it may not come until the last. But, O disciple! remember that it has to be endured, and fasten the energies of your soul upon the task. Live neither in the present nor the future, but in the eternal. This giant weed cannot flourish there; this blot upon existence is wiped out by the very atmosphere of eternal thought. ... Each man is to himself absolutely the way, the truth, and life. But he is only so when he grasps his whole individuality (personality) firmly, and, by the force of his awakened spiritual Will, recognizes this individuality (personality) as not himself, but that thing which he has with pain created for his own use, and by means of which he purposes, as his growth slowly develops his intelligence, to reach to that life beyond individuality (personality). ... Seek it by making the profound obeisance of the soul to the dim star that burns within. Steadily, as you watch and worship, its light will grow stronger. Then you may know you have found the beginning of the way. And when you have found the end, its light will suddenly become the infinite light."
The Paraphernalia, of Personality is the "Middle"—the connecting links between the Cosmic Will and the Individual Will—the One Being and the "I." By excluding it, the "I" is merged in consciousness with the Cosmos—he attains Cosmic Consciousness. But this exclusion