Rosicrucian Writings Online
Psychic DevelopmentITS RELATION TO MENTAL AND SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT
By Frater Royle Thurston
[From The Rosicrucian Digest March 1931]
PERHAPS in no other country in the world or among no other nation of people is there so much misconception regarding psychic development as we find in North America. I judge that in England and its dominions the misconception is not as great as among English speaking people on this side of the world because the attitude taken in the metaphysical and psychic journals of Great Britain conforms more or less with the correct understanding of the Orientals in this regard.
We are accustomed in this new land to doing things very rapidly and to taking short cuts to achieve all ends and to look upon time as a rapidly passing element in our life, and, therefore, we abbreviate all effort and especially all study and expect the Cosmic laws and principles to cooperate with us and make exceptions in consideration of our conservation of time. Fortunes are made rapidly in this new world, businesses come into existence and pass out in a very short duration, homes are rapidly built and rapidly torn down, streets and boulevards familiar to our parents and grandparents have long since changed their names or forms, prominent persons in every community are known for a short period and quickly pass out of our memory, and we think and move in a rapid whirligig of motion that allows little consideration for future permanency or for stability in anything.
We are quite accustomed to hearing that the young man who a few days ago was playing with the young men of our neighborhood as a high school youth is now successfully conducting cases of law in the court and before we know it we will be informed that he has retired from law practice and is settling down to a retired life of ease or grave concern. Young men who were just about to graduate from high school the day before yesterday, seemingly, are now owners of successful stores and have achieved their experience and knowledge as though in a dream over night.
It is not surprising, therefore, that we hear of advertised psychics, "mediums," fortune tellers, and mystics who knew nothing of their subjects a few days ago, but through mastering a brief correspondence course of twenty lessons, easily read in a few evenings or through attending a special class of seven lectures, are now capable of instantly attuning with the Cosmic or with certain unknown psychic forces and delving into the past, present, and future with high efficiency, making it possible for them to tell anything and everything we wish to know.
The time element does not seem to enter into such processes of psychic development as brought about their high attainment, and multitudes are convinced that there is some short road or quick method of awakening the so-called "solar plexus" or other mysterious psychic centers which turn an untrained and undeveloped person into a highly developed mystic in a few weeks or a few months. As I have intimated above, such a common belief in magical development of the inner consciousness or inner abilities does not exist in any other part of the world but among the English speaking people, principally on the west side of the Atlantic.
What is even more puzzling is the attitude on the part of many sincere and honest seekers for psychic or spiritual development. After contacting a safe and reliable guide for their studies and development, they still look upon the element of time as something to be overcome and are restless, indeed, because their progress or development is not extremely rapid or almost instantaneous.
I wonder how many of these persons ever give thought to the subject in a rational way and arrive at the conclusion that psychic development or spiritual development must proceed not from mental comprehension, but from inner illumination and that the entire process is one of Cosmic control and direction? The most that any organization, acting as a school, or any individual acting as a teacher, can do, is to point the way. The Path can be clearly shown to those who seek it and the experiences of thousands who have gone along the Path can be outlined and presented as a helpful guide, but the actual journey must be made, not in a material sense, but in a purely Cosmic sense and in this regard, no guide, no organization, no teacher, can either shorten, lengthen, nor control the time element.
Within recent years there have been published a series of books for tourists with titles such as "Seeing Rome In One Day," or "Seeing Paris In One Day," or "Seeing London In One Day." So far as any benefit derived from attempting to use these books in seeing these cities in one day is concerned, the tourist would do well to stay at home in America and just read the book and visualize the things described. Common sense will convince the rational reader that the author of the book spent weeks in gathering the information he has condensed in the book and which he outlines as possible of seeing and understanding in one day.
The time element that enters into moving the mind through a city rapidly and pointing out various places with brief descriptions is not the time element that is consumed in moving a physical body through heavy traffic in order to cover the same ground. One of the safest guide books for European tourists is that published by Baedecker. But Baedecker does not attempt to control or consider the time element. He points out the paths that one may take and from the experience of himself and hundreds of other tourists he gives the benefit of their experiences and a guide of what may be seen.
It is up to the tourist, however, to journey along the path and to accept the conditions of travel and to submit to the time element as it manifests itself in his individual case. No two tourists starting out with such a guide book, intending to journey along one of the described paths or routes from Paris to Bordeaux, would make the journey in the same time, so far as days and hours are concerned, and no two individuals would have the same experiences, realizations, and ultimate benefits. The guide book, however, would serve to prevent unnecessary delays and prevent missing important points along the way. In order, however, that each tourist should derive the utmost benefit from his journey in accordance with the urges and desires which prompted him to take it, each tourist would have to give to each part of the path, to each hour of the journey, such time as would allow the inner self and consciousness or the mental understanding to respond and react. As I have said, this is a matter that is distinctly different in each individual.
Therefore, we see that the very best teacher, the very best guides willing to direct our footsteps along the Path to psychic realization and unfoldment, can only point out the way and give us the benefit of the experiences of others and then watch us work out our own progress in accordance with the time element as the Cosmic directs it. That some will reach the goal of their realization sooner than others is inevitable for two reasons.
First of all, the goal of one individual may be further away than the goal of another and the incidents along the way may require in one case or attract in another case, more time, consideration, and realization, than in the case of others. Secondly, the state of development or unfoldment of the beginner on the Path is different in almost every individual case and the degree of unfoldment necessary at each stage of the journey is considerably different in each case. These two factors, therefore, would be a determining consideration in judging the amount of time necessary to attain the desired or necessary unfoldment and the ultimate realization.
There is only this very distinctive and important difference between the tourist who starts on a long or short journey in foreign lands and the beginner who starts out on the Path of revelation and unfoldment. The tourist is never anxious to reach the end of his journey unless he is limited by worldly affairs and must return to his home city at a given time. Even then, while he recognizes the necessity for hurrying, he is never really anxious to reach the ultimate end of the journey. He hopes that each day will be a month long and each hour as long as a day, and he hopes, also, that from sunrise to sunset some miracle will occur and lengthen the period beyond all reason that he may proceed slowly and enjoy to the fullest, every minute of his travel.
The seeker on the Path for unfoldment, however, becomes over-anxious at the very start, to reach the ultimate end of his journey and to make each hour as short as possible. While the tourist stays up as late as there are any lights burning in the city he happens to be in and dreads going to sleep for fear he will miss something, and rises at the earliest hour possible to see anything, the student on the Path of psychic development and unfoldment wishes he could go to sleep and sleep for a year and wake up and find himself fully developed and ready to manifest all of the Cosmic powers within him.
In fact, I exaggerate the length of time he would be willing to sleep, for he would like to sleep not over a week and have the ultimate results perfectly manifested. He dreads every one of the little experiences and thrills of the process along the way, whereas the tourist delights in every little incident and makes a record of them, photographs them, and tries to remember them and relate afterwards as the greatest thrills of his life. The tourist realizes that the real attractiveness of the entire journey are the incidents on the way which will be the stones or structures of the temple of knowledge and wisdom which will be his possession at the ultimate end of the journey. How precious each of those stones are to the tourist on land. To many of the seekers for psychic illumination, however, the little experiences of each day and each hour are not looked upon as precious jewels that will shine with splendent glory in his ultimate crown, but as balls attached with chains to his ankles which seem to make his journey slow and uninteresting.
And what basis is there in history or in any of the sacred writings or spiritual revelations of the past for this peculiar idea that psychic development can be attained rapidly or through any short cut? Let us turn back the pages of history and experience and of divine revelation to the greatest and most perfect instance in all human knowledge. This illustration is the life of the great Master Jesus. The statements of all the Christian churches based upon selected passages of the Holy Bible are presented to us to convince us that Jesus was foreordained and pre-destined even before He was conceived in the womb of His mother to become the greatest of all masters of divine and human wisdom. His mother knew this and the three Magi who came to His birthplace reminded her again that here was a child who was to become a Supreme Master.
His attainment of such mastership was not the result of an after-thought later in life nor the result of a conclusion that He came to after His boyhood days had passed, nor was it something that He sought for in a brief time and received from the Cosmic as an instantaneous benediction and blessing. Whether we accept the Oriental records and reports as given in the book "The Mystical Life of Jesus," which constitutes one of the volumes of our Rosicrucian Library, or whether we accept the orthodox Christian, though brief historical outline of His life, the fact remains that Jesus was a profound student of religion and spiritual wisdom and devoted His life to His development at even an early age.
In His twelfth or thirteenth year, He already manifested great wisdom and knowledge to the learned men of the synagogue and His answers to His mother in His youth regarding His tarrying at the synagogue indicated that He was spending His time and all of His thought in devotion to God's work and the development of His spiritual powers. However, even though this shows that He had begun His studies and development at a very early age, all of the Christian records and all of the Oriental records show that He did not manifest any degree of supreme spiritual power or any degree of psychic unfoldment until His baptism when the final stage of the processes made their sublime manifestation with the coming of the Holy Ghost into His being.
Think of the years that He gave to His development and preparation and unfoldment, despite the fact that He was preordained to have this development and had every advantage, even beginning with the word issuing forth from Heaven which became incarnate in His flesh at the time of His conception. If the greatest of the decreed and pre-destined masters required time and study for development, why should any of us, born with less preparation and Cosmic decree, expect to attain any unfoldment in less time?
And may it be noted that all of the records, both Christian and Oriental, agree in the fact that after Jesus had been mentally prepared through study and keen analysis after long contemplation, He was beset by the Cosmic laws of temptation in order to further strengthen and fortify His determination and make Him still worthy and more prepared for the last degree of His unfoldment. He did not give up during these temptations and allow Himself to be convinced that He was progressing too slowly, or that the system He was following was not rapid enough, or that His instructor or teachers were holding Him back for some ulterior motive, or that the effort was not worth while; for if these beliefs had entered His mind or had ever affected His attitude, He would never have attained the ultimate aim of His life.
Even His disciples, who were carefully selected because of their spiritual insight and deep and profound sincerity and unquestioned loyalty and determination and above all their quick reaction to spiritual values, followed Jesus through all of His spiritual ministry, studied under Him for a number of years, and had the benefit of the most marvelous experience and demonstrations before they became evolved or reached the point of unfoldment where they were able to manifest any degree of true psychic development.
Not even during the lifetime of Jesus while He was still with them and able to answer all of their questions and gave them every possible benefit of personal guidance and experience, did they receive any manifestation of their own developing power and unfoldment except as indications that something was going on within them and which they probably did not understand. It was not until the Crucifixion and the retirement from their association did the disciples of Jesus receive the Holy Ghost and through it the power which had been developing and for which they had been preparing.
It is evident, therefore, that something more than mere study, something more than the mere mental intellect or mere comprehension of laws and principles, and something more than right living and right thinking is necessary to complete the process of spiritual unfoldment and psychic development. While the mind and brain are being rounded out in the fullness of true comprehension and while the intellect is being developed that it may see all things in their true values and comprehend God's laws in their true Cosmic relationships, something more than all of this must take place within the divine consciousness of man to prepare him and unfold him for the incoming of the Holy Spirit and the divine power that will represent the ultimate unfoldment.
Personal contact with the great teachers has no advantage over the study of the profound laws without a teacher. The disciples of Jesus were more intimately associated with Him than those great saints of divine and spiritual who were born after Him, studied after He ceased to be on earth, and attained great power without ever having known Jesus personally. Yet this intimacy, this contact with marvelous miracles, this reception of personal instruction and demonstration did not shorten or quicken their period of unfoldment and development one iota.
All sacred and mystical literature distinctly states what Jesus intimated to His disciples and to the multitudes that spiritual development and unfoldment is individualistic and no man can see God for another and no man can give another the spiritual light that must grow within him. The students on the Path, the adepts, the highly developed in mysticism must journey alone and very often the benefits of silent study and especially unassociated with contacts with others of like mind is the greatest advantage that any true seeker can have. History is replete with the records of marvelous attainments in a spiritual and psychic sense made by those men and women living as anchorites on mountain tops or valleys or shut away from the world where they could spend their symbolical forty days and forty nights or forty years in preparation, study, contemplation, and unfoldment.
The advantage of a school or a system is admitted by all of the great masters. Jesus urged them to come together occasionally in His name. This was the foundation for His church, for His entire institution and system of guidance, but you will note that the entire system advocated by Him and every other great master was not for the purpose of cutting short the time and not for the purpose of examining the development of one another in order that they might progress more rapidly, but merely for the purpose of guidance and the receiving of instruction based upon comparative experiences.
This is the sort of guidance and instruction that the Rosicrucian Brotherhood holds out to all individuals. It is not a school of dogmatic philosophy or sectarian religion, but a school of comparative human experiences and of manifest wisdom revealed to multitudes and found to be true and eternally true. The Brotherhood acts as a companion, guide, as a leader, as a teacher, but not as a substitute for any individual's development. It cannot supplant what must take place within each being, but can simply supplement the individual experience with the experiences of multitudes and through the study of these experiences reveal a greater and better understanding and comprehension of such experiences.
There is a very potent, though subtle power that manifests itself through spiritual association. Jesus said that where many or any were gathered together in His name, in the name of the Christ consciousness, there He, the Christ, would be. Where any are gathered together in attunement with God, there God is most likely and most efficiently manifested. Where hundreds or thousands are associated in mutual bonds of sympathy and understanding, in ties of fellowship and cooperation, in mutual help, in their studies and experiences, there is a power present that is of direct benefit to each one.
Much is said at times of the universal mind, meaning the mind of all beings focused in sympathy upon certain principles with universal agreement. We speak in mundane matters of public opinion and the power it has in worldly affairs. The only difference between the universal mind and public opinion is in the degree of the spiritual nature of the thoughts held in the mind of all beings and the relationship of these thoughts to universal things. If public opinion in any community or any city or nation representing the identical thoughts and agreements of the mass consciousness, is a power in worldly things to such an extent that it moves men in high positions to accede to it and recognize it and even affects the decisions of kings and emperors, think how potent must be the spiritual power of the universal mind when it is composed of spiritual thoughts held in the minds of thousands of beings associated in spiritual companionship devoted to one noble spiritual ideal.
The Rosicrucian Brotherhood has as its objective many spiritual, as well as practical ideals, and even the practical ones are those which are above the commonplace things of life. Back of the whole scheme of the worldly life of each individual in the organization is the sublime desire born and inspired in man through Cosmic urge, to achieve unfoldment or psychic development leading to true mastership of the individual. Since this is the ultimate and unquestioned aim of each who enters the organization, it becomes the dominating thought and the controlling factor in the thinking and living of each individual member. All of their affairs, like all of their reading and all of their understanding, centers around the attainment of this one noble and ultimate aim. This in itself focalizes a wonderful power which each in the association senses and finds efficiently manifested in times of attunement. This is the great purpose of the organization, aside from its guidance and instruction, and it is such association with the resulting powers of a spiritual nature that is offered to all of the seekers for psychic development and spiritual unfoldment.
Realizing, therefore, that while certain mental and intellectual progress must be made in the comprehension of laws and principles, a certain process of spiritual unfoldment from within must take place, the time element becomes secondary, if of any consideration at all. Each day, each hour, brings through the studies an intellectual comprehension of universal principles, another degree of mastership in a purely mental sense, while there is also an accompanying degree of spiritual unfoldment. Each degree of such intellectual comprehension and advancement and each degree of unfoldment brings its thrills of experience, its power of mastership and its conviction of the evolving truths that are gradually forming the character of the inner self.
These daily and weekly experiences are the jewels that will form the beauty of the eventual crown and are like the stones that form the structure of the ultimate experience of the one who journeys through foreign lands. Each of and by itself may be minute and inconsequential in the great scheme of things, but the attainment of each one is a blessing and a benediction and a rich reward for the day and the accumulated mass of these things constitutes the building of a new individual which, when once completed and ready to manifest as new spiritual and regenerated being, makes the image of God in which we were all designed, but to which sublime state we must attain gradually and carefully.
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