Reprinted by Blavatsky Study Center
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Smogged with Astral Intoxication
by Vonda Urban (1)
The recent widely viewed television portrayal of Shirley Maclaine's book, Out on a Limb has to be considered along with it as, at best, a questionable blessing. While there is no doubt about some splendid Theosophical thoughts sprinkled throughout... is it realistic to expect that these morsels of truth can outweigh or counteract the pernicious lure to psychism which is overwhelmingly the main substance of the message promoted therein? One can only sadly wonder how many of the followers of the "tinsel town guru" will innocently plunge after her into the treacherous realms of Kama-Loka, pursuing "sweet tongued voices of illusion in the stupefying enchantment of those mayavic regions," blissfully unaware of dangers lurking there? How many will become the hapless victims of those voices, unable ever again to close the door once it has been opened, the very same voices and hallucinations tempting and tormenting the hundreds of thousands of the psycho-mentally ill living in untold misery and confusion on the streets of our cities? How many may have arrived there via channeling, hatha-yoga, hypnosis, negative meditation, chanting, drugs, and all such harmful practices that are strictly forbidden on the Spiritual Path?
Indeed, it comes as a shock to many - nor is it likely to be believed by those smogged with 'astral intoxication' - that psychic is not spiritual! And how much of sound value is there in the view that wherever interest is primarily focused on phenomena and the occult arts similar and equal attention will be given to study about the seven principles of man; about the Astral Light and its inhabitants; about psychic powers; about the after-death states; about hatha-yoga, about hypnotism, etc? It is a study of these areas that give KNOWLEDGE that will protect students from rushing into paranormal experimentation. It cannot be overstated that preoccupation with phenomena is an impediment to spiritual growth; that wherever psychic activity prevails, there spirituality dies; and this because altered states of consciousness occur on an extended range of physical sense that function on other densities of energy-substance-matter. Consider, for example, that animals exhibit highly developed psychic faculties, and they respond to sensory frequencies beyond the human range as proved by the dog whistle that we cannot hear.
In The Voice of the Silence, H. P. Blavatsky defines the difference between psychic and spiritual sense; "...There are two kinds of Siddhis, one group embraces the lower, coarse, psychic and mental energies; the other is one which exacts the highest training of Spiritual powers... :"(Glossary 1, note 1.) These two groups stand in opposition at the material and spiritual of human self-consciousness; and development toward either direction occurs with equal withdrawal from the other. The Voice makes this very clear in pronouncing: "... The Self of matter and the SELF of spirit can never meet. One of the twain must disappear; there is no place for both..." (p. 12, orig. ed.) Spiritual siddhis unfold normally along the path of chelaship as they are earned by living the life which means, of course, first deserve, then desire. But forced entry onto other planes of perception is cheating nature, the price for which is apt to be a short circuit in the sensory apparatus.
The field in which extrasensory perception operates is the Astral Light, graphically described in The Theosophical Glossary, p. 38:
"A subtle essence visible only to a clairvoyant eye, and the lowest but one (viz., the earth), of the seven Akasic or Kosmic Principles. Eliphas Levi calls it the great Serpent and the Dragon from which radiates on Humanity every evil influence. This is so; but why not add that the Astral Light gives out nothing but what it has received; that it is the great terrestrial crucible, in which the vile emanations of the earth (moral and physical) upon which the Astral Light is fed, are all converted into their subtlest essence, and radiated back intensified, thus becoming epidemics - moral, psychic and physical..."
Psychic epidemics occur in periodic cycles during which the separation between the physical and astral world grows very thin resulting in an inrush of psychic forces and substances into the physical sphere. The mushrooming seminars offering instruction in every sort of paranormal activity evidences the psychic. epidemic now dangerously raging. What used to be called seance is now called "Channeling" and "transchanneling;" but the meaning is the same. Channeling is the condition through which the living assimilate themselves with the dead. H.P.B. gives so vivid a picture of the process and what it is that we channel, that it should chill any interest in romping through the field of Kama-Loka; and it helps explain obsession and multi-personality afflictions:
"... During epidemics of this kind the kingdom of the dead invades the region of the living, though fortunately this kind of refuse are bound by the ties of their former surroundings. And so, when evoked by mediums, they cannot break through the limits and boundaries in which they acted and lived... And the wider the doors are opened to them the further the necromantic epidemic is spread...
"It stands to reason that this mere earthly refuse, irresistibly drawn to the earth, cannot follow the soul and spirit - these highest principles of man's being. With horror and disgust I often observed how a reanimated shadow of this kind separated itself from the inside of the medium; how separating itself from his astral body and clad in someone else's vesture, it pretended to be someone's relation... Oh, if they only knew the truth... If they saw, as I have often seen, a monstrous, bodiless creature seizing hold of someone present at these spiritistic sorceries! It wraps the man as if with a black shroud, and slowly disappears in him as if drawn into his body by each of his living pores..." - (From a letter to her sister published in The Path, Vol. IX, pp. 380-1)
Fortunate are those who, though lured into the dazzling illusion of the psychic world, escape from it unharmed.
(1) The Eclectic Theosophist, Sept./Oct., 1987