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A Treatise on White Magic - Rule Two - The Hindrances to Occult Study
Every change, in human life, is subject to immutable laws, if such a paradoxical statement may be permitted. In the attempt to find out those laws, in order to conform to them, the occultist begins to offset karma, and thus colors not the astral light. The only method whereby these laws can as yet be apprehended by the many who are interested is by a close study of the vicissitudes of daily existence, as spread over a long period of years. By the outstanding features of a cycle of ten years, for instance, as they are contrasted with the preceding or succeeding similar period a student can approximate the trend of affairs and guide himself thereby. When the point in evolution is reached where the student can contrast preceding lives, and gain knowledge of the basic coloring of his previous life cycle, then rapid progress in adjusting the life to law is made. When succeeding lives can be likewise apprehended by the student, and their coloring seen and known, then karma (as known in the three worlds) ceases, and the adept stands master of all causes and effects as they condition and regulate his lower vehicle.

He aspires to the occult path and considers changes and events in the light of all preceding events, and the longer and more accurate his memory the more he can dominate all possible situations.

Thus two of the hindrances will be found to be:

  1. The comparative newness and change which is characteristic of the Occident.
  2. The development of the concrete mind.

Our third hindrance grows out of the preceding one. It consists of the emphasis that has been laid in the West upon the material side of things. This has resulted in a threefold condition of affairs. First, the world of spirit, or the formless abstract world of subjective consciousness is not recognized in a scientific sense. It is recognized [83] innately by those of mystic temperament, and by those who are able to study the subjective history of men and races, but science recognizes not this aspect of manifestation, nor do scientific men, as a whole, believe in a world of super-physical endeavor. All that in the earlier races held paramount place in the lives and thought of the peoples is now approached skeptically, and discussions are preceded by a question mark. But progress has been made and much has arisen out of the war. The question, for instance, is rapidly changing from the formula "Is there a life after death?" to the enquiry "Of what nature is the future life?" and this is a portent of much encouragement.

Secondly, the masses of the people are suffering from suppression and from the effects of inhibition. Science has said, There is no God and no spirit within man. Religion has said, There must be a God, but where may He be found? The masses say, We desire not a God constructed by the brains of theologians. Therefore the true inner comprehension finds no room for expansion, and the activity that should be finding its legitimate expression in the higher aspiration, turns itself to the deification of things, - things pertaining to flesh, connected with the emotions, or having a relation to the mind. The war, again, has accomplished much by relegating things to their just position, and, by the removal of possessions, many have learnt the value of essentials, and the necessity of eliminating that which is superfluous.

A third condition of affairs grows out of the above two. A right apprehension of the future does not exist. When the life of the spirit is negated, when the manifesting life concentrates itself on things concrete and apparent then the true goal of existence disappears, the true incentive to right living is lost, and the sarcastic words of the initiate, Paul, "Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die" characterize the attitude of the majority of men. [84]

Men deaden the inner voice that bears witness to the life hereafter, and they drown the words that echo in the silence by the noise and whirl of business, pleasure and excitement.

The whole secret of success in treading the occult path depends upon an attitude of mind; when the attitude is one of concrete materialism, of concentration upon form, and a desire for the things of the present moment, little progress can be made in apprehending the higher esoteric truth.

A fourth hindrance is found in the physical body, which has been built up by the aid of meat and fermented foods and drinks, and nurtured in an environment in which fresh air and sunlight are not paramount factors. I am here generalizing, and speaking for the masses of men, and not for the would-be earnest occult student. For long centuries food that has been decomposing, and hence in a condition of fermentation, has been the basic food of the occidental races; and the result can be seen in bodies unfitted for any strain such as occultism imposes, and which form a barrier to the clear shining forth of the life within. When fresh fruit and vegetables, clear water, nuts and grains, cooked and uncooked, form the sole diet of the evolving sons of men, then will be built bodies fitted to be vehicles for highly evolved Egos. They patiently await the turning of the wheel, and the coming in of a cycle which will permit of their fulfiling their destiny. The time is not yet, and the work of elimination and adjustment must be slow and tedious.

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