Few words are needed in sending this little book out into the world. It is the fifth of a series of Manuals designed to meet the public demand for a simple exposition of Theosophical teachings. Some have complained that our literature is at once too abstruse, too technical, and too expensive for the ordinary reader, and it is our hope that the present series may succeed in supplying what is a very real want. Theosophy is not only for the learned; it is for all. Perhaps among those who in these little books catch their first glimpse of its teachings, there may be a few who will be led by them to penetrate more deeply into its philosophy, its science, and its religion, facing its abstruser problems with the student's zeal and the neophyte's ardour.
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It's Scenery, Inhabitants and Phenomena. Few words are needed in sending this little book out into the world. It is the fifth of a series of Manuals designed to meet the public demand for a simple exposition of Theosophical teachings.
Some have complained that our literature is at once too abstruse, too technical, and too expensive for the ordinary reader, and it is our hope that the present series may succeed in supplying what is a very real want. Theosophy is not only for the learned; it is for all. Perhaps among those who in these little books catch their first glimpse of its teachings, there may be a few who will be led by them to penetrate more deeply into its philosophy, its science, and its religion, facing its abstruser problems with the student's zeal and the neophyte's ardour.
But these Manuals are not written only for the eager student, whom no initial difficulties can daunt; they are written for the busy [v] men and women of the work-a-day world, and seek to make plain some of the great truths that render life easier to bear and death easier to face. Written by servants of the Masters who are the Elder Brothers of our race, they can have no other object than to serve our fellow-men.
IN the extensive literature of Theosophy this little work stands out for certain specially marked characteristics. It records an attempt to describe the Invisible World in the same manner that a botanist would describe some new territory on this globe not explored by any previous botanist. Most works dealing with Mysticism and Occultism are characterised by the lack of a scientific presentation, such as is exacted in every department of science.
They give us far more the significance of things, rather than descriptions of the things themselves. In this little book the author approaches the Invisible World from the modern standpoint of science. As I have a connection with this book, as the amanuensis who copied the manuscript for the printer, I can describe how the work came to be written. At the period of its writing in , C. Sinnett [vii] was president of the Lodge. The Lodge did no public propaganda, and had no open meetings; but three or four times a year a meeting was held at the house of Mr.
Sinnett, and cards of invitation were sent out to the Lodge members and to those few of the "upper classes" whom Mr. Sinnett thought were likely to be interested in Theosophy.
Sinnett desired that Mr. Leadbeater should deliver an address to the Lodge. Our author selected as his topic "The Astral Plane".
Here I can well quote the description which he himself has given of his training in Clairvoyance, which enabled him to make a scientific investigation of the phenomena of the Astral Plane. In his book How Theosophy Came to Me he describes his training as follows:. Unexpected Development. It should be understood that in those days I possessed no clairvoyant faculty, nor had I ever regarded myself as at all sensitive.
I remember that I had a conviction that a man must be born with some psychic powers and with a sensitive body before he could do anything in the way of that kind of development, so that I [viii] had never thought of progress of that sort as possible for me in this incarnation, but had some hope that if I worked as well as I knew how in this life I might be born next time with vehicles more suitable to that particular line of advancement.
One day, however, when the Master Kuthumi honoured me with a visit, He asked me whether I had ever attempted a certain kind of mediation connected with the development of the mysterious power called Kundalini. I had of course heard of that power, but knew very little about it, and at any rate supposed it to be absolutely out of reach for Western people. However, He recommended me to make a few efforts along certain lines, which He pledged me not to divulge to anyone else except with His direct authorization, and told me that He would Himself watch over those efforts to see that no danger should ensue.
Naturally I took the hint, and worked away steadily, and I think I may say intensely, at that particular kind of meditation day after day. I must admit that it was very hard work and sometimes distinctly painful, but of course [ix] I persevered, and in due course began to achieve the results that I had been led to expect. Certain channels had to be opened and certain partitions broken down; I was told that forty days was a fair estimate of the average time required if the effort was really energetic and persevering.
I worked at it for forty-two days, and seemed to myself to be on the brink of the final victory, when the Master Himself intervened and performed the final act of breaking through which completed the process, and enabled me thereafter to use astral sight while still retaining full consciousness in the physical body — which is equivalent to saying that the astral consciousness and memory became continuous whether the physical body was awake or asleep.
I was given to understand that my own effort would have enabled me to break through in twenty-four hours longer, but that the Master interfered because He wished to employ me at once in a certain piece of work. Psychic Training. It must not for a moment be supposed, however, that the attainment of this particular power [x] was the end of the occult training.
On the contrary, it proved to be only the beginning of a year of the hardest work that I have ever known. It will be understood that I lived there in the octagonal room by the river-side alone for many long hours every day, and practically secure from any interruption except at meal-times.
Several Masters were so gracious as to visit me during that period and to offer me various hints; but it was the Master Djwal Kul who gave most of the necessary instruction. It may be that He was moved to this act of kindness because of my close association with Him in my last life, when I studied under Him in the Pythagorean school which He established in Athens, and even had the honour of managing it after His death.
I know not how to thank Him for the enormous amount of care and trouble which He took in my psychic education; patiently and over and over again He would make a vivid thought-form, and say to me: "What do you see? This process often had to be many times repeated before my mentor was satisfied. The pupil has to be tested in all sorts of ways and under all conceivable conditions; indeed, towards the end of the tuition sportive nature-spirits are especially called in and ordered in every way possible to endeavour to confuse or mislead the seer.
Unquestionably it is hard work, and the strain which it imposes is, I suppose, about as great as a human being can safely endure; but the result achieved is assuredly far more than worth while, for it leads directly up to the union of the lower and the higher self and produces an utter certainty of knowledge based upon experience which no future happenings can ever shake.
At the time that the lecture for the London Lodge was being prepared, I was residing with [xii] Mr. Leadbeater, and attending classes for examinations. It was a habit of Mr. Leadbeater never to throw away the envelopes in which he received letters. He cut them open at the sides, and used their insides for writing memoranda.
This habit remained with him even to the last year of his life. After delivering the lecture from notes on November 21, , his next task was to write it out for publication as Transaction No.
He began writing a little at a time, on scraps of paper which were the opened envelopes. It was my task then to write from these scraps into the unwritten pages of an old foolscap-size diary. The manuscript therefore was in my handwriting. The writing took three or four weeks, as he was occupied in various kinds of work for his livelihood, and so could write only when time was available for writing. When the printer's proofs of the London Lodge Transaction came to Bishop Leadbeater, the manuscript which was in my handwriting was of course returned also.
As happens when a manuscript is returned by the printer, this manuscript showed the thumb marks of the compositor and proof-reader, and the clean whiteness of the pages had [xiii] disappeared in the process of handling. This would not have mattered, as once a manuscript is in print it is thrown into the waste paper basket.
But now happened an unusual and unexpected incident which distinctly flustered Bishop Leadbeater. One morning he informed me that the Master K. The Master explained that The Astral Plane was an unusual production and a landmark in the intellectual history of humanity. The Master explained that hitherto, even in such a great civilization as that of Atlantis, the sages of the occult schools had approached the facts of Nature not from the modern scientific standpoint, but from a different angle.
The occult teachers of the past had sought more the inner significance of facts, what might be termed the "life side" of Nature, and less the "form side" of Nature, such as characterizes the scientific method of today.
While a great body of knowledge concerning Nature's mysteries had been gathered by the Adepts of past civilizations, that knowledge had hitherto been synthesized not after a detailed [xiv] scientific analysis, but from the reactions of consciousness to the " life side ".
On the other hand, for the first time among occultists, a detailed investigation had been made of the Astral Plane as a whole, in a manner similar to that in which a botanist in an Amazonian jungle would set to work in order to classify its trees, plants and shrubs, and so write a botanical history of the jungle. For this reason the little book, The Astral Plane , was definitely a landmark, and the Master as Keeper of the Records desired to place its manuscript in the great Museum.
This Museum contains a careful selection of various objects of historical importance to the Masters and Their pupils in connection with their higher studies, and it is especially a record of the progress of humanity in various fields of activity. It contains, for instance, globes modelled to show the configuration of the Earth at various epochs of time; it was from these globes that Bishop Leadbeater drew the maps which were published in another transaction of the London Lodge, that on Atlantis by W.
The Museum contains among other significant objects a piece of solid Mercury, which is an isotope. It contains various old texts relating to extinct and [xv] present religions, and other material useful for an understanding of the work of the "Life Wave" on this globe, our Earth. About the only occasion that I can recall when one could describe Bishop Leadbeater as being "flustered" was on receiving this request of the Master for the manuscript of his little book, for the manuscript was soiled-it could well be described as "grubby" — after the handling by the printer.
Nevertheless, the Master's request had to be carried out. The question then arose how the manuscript was to be transported to Tibet. This, however, did not bother him because Bishop Leadbeater had certain occult powers which he did not reveal to others, though I have observed them on certain occasions.
The manuscript was to be transported by dematerialization, and to be rematerialized in Tibet. I happened to have a piece of a yellow silk ribbon three inches broad, and folding the manuscript into four I put the ribbon round it, and stitched it to make a band. I was excited, as here was a remarkable opportunity to get proof of a "phenomenon".
If the manuscript were locked in some [xvi] box and the key was with me all the time, and the manuscript were found to have disappeared, I should have a splendid phenomenon to narrate. But strangely as it happened, among Bishop Leadbeater's possessions and mine at the time we had nothing that would lock properly.
There was an old cowhide trunk but its lock was broken. We had very few bags at the time, but all had defective locks, and absolutely there was nothing with a serviceable lock. There was a small wooden box with inlaid tortoise shell, which was the workbox of his mother; but its key had been lost long ago.
There remained nothing to be done except to put the manuscript inside this box and pile a heap of books on it faute de mieux. Next morning on waking, and on removing the pile of books and looking inside the work box, the manuscript was not there.
My chagrin at losing the opportunity to prove a phenomenon was not consoled by being told that I myself had taken astrally the manuscript to the Master. It may here be interesting to quote what I wrote elsewhere, on this subject of the impossibility of finding an instance of the action of super-physical [xvii] powers that the sceptical scientific mind could consider "water-tight" against criticism.
Whenever we might have given an instance of proof, with regard to occult facts, without any possible challenge, always something happened to prevent the finality in the proof. It is well known that, in the early days of Spiritualism, many striking objects were transported from distances, showing that the spirits were able to use extraordinary powers. But in each instance there was just one final link in the chain missing.
There was always a loophole for doubt. Similarly, in the phenomena done by the Adepts in connection with Madame Blavatsky's work at Simla, it would have been the easiest thing for Them to have transported the London Times of the day to Simla, as was once suggested.
But in all cases of phenomena, there was the omission, through oversight, or for some other reason, of some important evidential fact. When the Adepts were asked on this matter, we were informed that They purposely prevented any phenomenon which would be absolutely "water-tight" in the matter of proof.
So long as there is scepticism on the matter, mankind is protected from exploitation by the unscrupulous. We know already how mankind has been exploited economically and industrially by selfish minds, controlling the resources of Nature. How great a calamity might occur, if these selfish minds were to use occult powers also for exploitation, is not difficult for anyone with a little imagination to conceive.
Bishop Leadbeater first met Dr. Annie Besant in
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It's Scenery, Inhabitants and Phenomena. Few words are needed in sending this little book out into the world. It is the fifth of a series of Manuals designed to meet the public demand for a simple exposition of Theosophical teachings. Some have complained that our literature is at once too abstruse, too technical, and too expensive for the ordinary reader, and it is our hope that the present series may succeed in supplying what is a very real want. Theosophy is not only for the learned; it is for all.