This topic is linked from the entry on well-being at bottom of FAQ page.
Q1: How can I deal with various disturbances that affect my inner states?
It is affirmed that if at certain points in our life difficulties of a mental or psychic nature manifest themselves, that with the right advice they can be overcome. We will see how this is put in the writings of H. P. Blavatsky and William Judge quoted below.
For instance, Judge writes
The trials of Caroline illustrate those we all have, whether we know them as such or not.
She had a presence to annoy her; we, although not sensitive as she was, have within us influences and potential presences that affect us just as much; they cause us to have bias this way or that… and, like her, so long as we do not recognise the cause of the clouds, we will be unable to dissipate them.“A German Mystic’s Teachings” by W. Q. Judge (see end of page)
Texts such as these are part of the helpful advice that has been given for all who may periodically endure such inner difficulties so they can learn to correct them and prevent their reoccurrence, which maybe done successfully without having access to counseling by a mental health practitioner, which although preferable in some cases may not always be necessary or possible.
Since 19th century such mental and emotional disturbances or trials have become greatly more commonplace, the explanation for this is said to be due to the fact that as humanity enters the New Era / Age with its new conditions, demands and opportunities, our inner nature acts to develop and adapt to the new circumstances.
Such transition points ask us to make re-adjustments, and sooner or later it becomes necessary for us to accept the lesson of how to live in harmony with the dictates of the new cycle and with ourselves as reflections of it. The way to achieve such harmonious relations is through re-attuning our vacillating lower nature (the emotional and personal one) with our persisting higher nature. It is this higher aspect which is informed by the imperishable spark of the Monad present in each one and which lends nobility of purpose to each, although only if it is unobscured by the flighty personal mind, lower Manas.
Hence it is taught that it is through personal merit, by exertion for the collective good of all beings, and through the expansion in virtue (rather then simply by artificial proxies1) can we grow in full and long-term mental and psychic well-being. This is to develop as naturally as the lotus who “bares its heart to drink the morning sun” as the instructions of The Voice of the Silence gives it so poetically.2
Q2: What measures can be taken?
If you are feeling disturbances or being impinged upon by extraneous or outside influences and seek to regain lost stability and contentment, the advice found in the articles listed below may be of benefit. Mental troubles and phobias, which Patanjali calls mental deposits can be thought of as something like acquired habitual tendencies from this or an earlier life. They may not come out until triggered by an event or some new condition which provides the soil in which they may sprout, but they are also an opportunity for us to lay them to rest for good by overcoming them.
Looking into their origins, they may come from:
* a trauma from a past-life,
* childhood difficulties and experiences, both of which are simply old karmic deposits coming to fructification.
Or they may be
* from unwise psychic experiments, such as full-moon or other psychic meditations (which may be neither spiritual or ethical), or from
* pranayama breathing practices or various chakra developments to raise the lower kundalini, or
* from other practices such as accepting healing from practitioners who are unfitted for it or not properly and strictly trained.3
All this said, a note of caution should be added, for if those seeking help are unable to work through and apply the advice given here then they should turn to suitably-qualified and well-experienced professionals – who can at least give them some stability and certainty – and later return to this deeper work for a time when they feel stronger and more confident. Alternatively, others may feel able to apply some of these principles while at the same time receiving conventional therapies, to which these are complementary.
Those who can follow the path diligently and apply it sensibly will be helped, just as many students have been helped to pass through such difficulties, also known as ‘the dark night of the soul’ or the ‘Dweller on the Threshold’ etc.
Now, it should also be well noted that the word crisis simply means a decision-point, and should not be regarded as a failure or embarrassment; they are something to all humanity regularly go through and if they have courage, care and humility and also a firm faith that all will turn out alright, then these new phases of life may be safely entered.
A lot is written now days about initiations, but for the mystic they are simply these efforts to reach a degree, stage or opening of new consciousness, and this may sometimes happen as gradually and quietly as the evening tide rises.4
As has been said, such experiences are common in the life of those devoted to seeking the path of truth and of letting go of past follies and outgrown habits.
On the letting go of these old habits (which are simply the outer expressions or effects of the skandhas, Raja Yoga’s ‘mental deposits’), the initiate St. Paul says
When… I became a man, I put away childish things.The Bible, 1 Corinthians 13
Spiritual maturity is re-evaluating what attitudes we choose to dwell with, and what to – sometimes forcibly – let go of.
So, what is said about the causes of how sensitivity, active or passive, is awakened? Judge writes it may be either intentional or accidental:
… in cases where persons are involuntarily awakened, it is by continued thinking upon some object or person, as in the case of the young sailor whose mind was continually dwelling on his absent sweetheart and was thereby released from the limitations of his own personality.“A German Mystic’s Teachings” by W. Q. Judge (see end of page)
He then gives the teaching, universal to all spiritual traditions, that
a) mental strength and self-control is the first necessary step and that
b) if one’s thoughts drift into becoming negative, morbid or regretful, or bitter and self-pitying and so on, then those corresponding effects are induced in the mind.
Caroline Ruppert was aroused by a morbid dwelling on her disappointment in love and by remorse for her conduct towards her invalid mother, until these thoughts gained a mantric power over her, and it required intelligent exercise with other mantrams, given her by the Adept Mohrland, to restore her self-control and give her a symmetrical development.
… (from a) mere sensitive, she thus became an initiate, able to control the psychic forces by her own will.
Every hapless “medium” who is obsessed by elementals and elementaries that make life a torment… has it in his or her power, by intelligent exercise of the will, to obtain command over what they are now obliged to obey. But, in doing this, “right motive” must be kept constantly in view; care must be exercised to keep absolutely free from all… selfish considerations, else one will become a black magician.ibid
The power of the will was focussed through a mantram in the story of Caroline, but Judge does not give this, perhaps as it needs the rare and expert care of an adept, to whom we do not have access. Better, it can be done through the above exercises that simultaneously curb and eventually remove old habits and low elemental energies (the negative phase) and then the cultivation of the virtues, the Siddhis, as given by Judge (the positive phase).
This process of transmuting Karma is well described in the article ‘Karma‘ in his Two Volumes of Articles. See page 112 (PDF p.101) of Volume 1, and especially read the paragraph that begins “The entity at birth…” on page 117 (105).
Further reading on well-being
A study of the following texts will provide much help, noting especially their advice to keep good company, seek suitable help and create a pure, kind and honest atmosphere in the home.
- Start with “A Collation on Psychic Protection” from the writings of H. P. Blavatsky and William Q Judge (the collation is in the Articles drop down menu), then read
- all of ‘A Case of Obsession’ (in H. P. Blavatsky’s Collected Articles 2:485, it is not very long), and finally
- the three part series “Some Teachings of a German Mystic.” As it is quite long you may wish to start with William Q Judge’s commentary at the end of the webpage.
In there and scattered through out the Theosophical writings is a wealth of reliable and sound information; this attempt tries to bring some of it into a form and order where it may be usefully concentrated.
In order to gain benefit from its study you may need to make your own notes on which parts appeal to you as being most relevant and helpful. It is said we all have an inner monitor or voice in the heart which we can develop when we quieten the outer noisier voices of the emotions (which we too often mistake for our higher thoughts), and which will then show us the right direction to proceed, which is true self-induced progress. According to the analogy of the wheel, the spokes and the hub, the path seems to be a lonely and hard one at the start but it becomes progressively integrated as we continue towards the centre, and the illusion of separateness (the great heresy, attavada in Buddhism) is overcome and is replaced by feelings of belonging, unity and Brotherhood.
Universal Brotherhood is the first aim of the Theosophical Movement and is claimed to be the single-most influential factor in remediating humanity’s ills, both collective and individual.
The spiritual path is compared to the wheel whose spokes converge from the outer and come to the inner, the hub which is at the centre. It is a simple analogy for the differentiation of the One into the Many, allegorised in so many myths and epics as the journey of the traveler (be it Gilgamesh, Prometheus, Odysseus or countless others) from the security of the perfect home (Unity), through the many trials of existence, and returning when triumphant to the Source, with as much of wisdom as was gained along the weary way.
Other collations are available by email, contact the ULT here.
The ULT does not offer counseling or like psychological services; it passes on these articles for the use of students who are able to put them to their own use.
We can answer general questions but it is not our role nor our qualification to do more.
- A permanent and beneficial expansion of our consciousness is said to be neither achieved by hatha yoga, nor an outer asceticism, nor physical nor chemical means like drugs, herbs or ‘soma juice’ etc, however much they may temporarily relieve our pain.
If wisely administered by an experienced practitioner, such aids may be stepping stones but cannot do the work of strengthening the qualities of inner man, the acquiring of sympathy, of skillful action, of patient fortitude etc, all of which become permanent qualities of the soul-nature, and our lasting inheritance which can never be taken from us but only by surrendering to the wiles of the lower nature.
It is the ancient idea represented in many of the Greek plays, allegories and dramas that man stands halfway between the animal and the divine; he or she becomes the hero Prometheus (the one who has ‘fore-thought’) or the idle Epimethius, who from his lack of mindfulness was aptly named ‘after-thought’.
- The Voice is the esoteric student’s manual of the development of higher Siddhis, the spiritual powers in man and not those superficial psychic powers that may be fascinating and entertaining (but which are seldom enlightening or ennobling) such as mind reading, fortune telling or physical divinations like dowsing, which the Voice describes as “the lower, coarse, psychic and mental energies.”
- An example is Reiki (or other such old methods adapted for the New Age) which can be not better than a lottery because they give their practitioners authority to provide unsupervised healing after only a brief and superficial training, in most cases much less than a year, which for the majority (but not necessarily all) novice practitioners, will not be long enough.
The basis of this requirement was well known in the old healing schools, now long lost to posterity. For instance a study the original systems of the ancient Therapeutae or Essenes shows the apprentice-probationer went through 7 or more years of intensive full-time training in theory, technique and self-discipline in order to become a competent and pure healer, and perhaps later a teacher.
If that sounds demanding, all that can be said is that we live in the compromised times of the Kali Yug and we must do our best to choose from the help available. But we are also helped and aided to know the sacred texts teach over and again that it is the motive and sincerity of the healer to benefit their patient that is the key factor. This is the great acid test; the less free from the influence of money or power or immorality the healer is the better and more fitted he or she will be to be able to do lasting good. On the question of how long lasting a therapeutic effect can be – whether physical or mental – it is known from many accounts (such as those of Col. Olcott’s mesmeric healings) that they may only bring temporary relief, often for less than a year, even though the healer may be extraordinarily powerful. However, if during that time, the strength is given for the underlying causes to be patiently tackled and unremittingly worked through, then all may be well and turn out happily.
Take as an example Caroline Ruppert in the German Mystic’s story. It relates that she was brought to a very low condition by the strength of her own thoughts, whose force is derived from “or manifests itself in the guise of, either the imaginings of the sensitive (her)… or the imaginings of other persons” or indeed from other external sources such as powerful images in the astral light.
Judges, seemingly from personal observation of the phenomena, writes that these elemental energies become a temporary aspect of the personality in the mind of the person who imagines them, and if they continue to be fed with thoughts and vitality they will “more and more subvert and dominate the real self of the one who passively submits.”
It is implied that it is simply through the misuse of the imaginative power that the sufferer becomes less and less able to resist and so they may finally give in altogether to such malign influences. It is for this reason that passivity and mediumship are said to be dangers which students of Theosophy cannot be too much alive to; they must and can learn the skills and develop the will-power to be able to eject these “passionate elementals” as William Judge calls then in the text above, which one creates out of one’s own ignorance by not understanding how to correct and adjust the all too common tendency to wrong, pessimistic or self-blaming thinking.
So it is that control over these elemental forces must be acquired and used consciously and firmly and with skill; the best way is by starting with good intent, a clear conscience and confidence that changes can bring about a happy outcome. These lessons are life-giving and life-saving if they can be learned, and they come from feeding and sustaining the positive, creative mental forces all have and not to let elemental influences feed on or vampirise them.
Little more need be said than by through study and application of the perennial philosophy the transcendental virtues will come to flower in every faithful aspirant who lives rightly and simply with patience, charity and forbearance.
- “You look and wait for some great and astounding occurrence, to show you that you are going to be permitted to enter behind the veil; that you are to be Initiated. It will never come. He only who studies all things and learns from them, as he finds them, will be permitted to enter, and for him there are no flashing lightnings or rolling thunder. He who enters the door, does so as gently and imperceptibly, as the tide rises in the nighttime.
“Live well your life. Seek to realize the meaning of every event. Strive to find the Ever Living and wait for more light. The True Initiate does not fully realize what he is passing through, until his degree is received. If you are striving for light and Initiation, remember this, that your cares will increase, your trials thicken, your family make new demands upon you. He who can understand and pass through these patiently, wisely, placidly-may hope.” [from “Musings on the True Theosophist’s Path” W. Q. Judge’s Two Volumes of Collected Articles 2:415]