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RE: Theosophical miracle stories: a suggestion for categorization

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  • dalval14@earthlink.net
    Nov 24th 2002 Dear Friends: Re: A catalog of Phenomenal events. I think this suggestion is a good one. The 7 categories seem appropriate, and if this is
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 24, 2002
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      Nov 24th 2002

      Dear Friends:

      Re: A catalog of "Phenomenal" events.

      I think this suggestion is a good one.

      The 7 categories seem appropriate, and if this is prepared and
      available, then we can refer to it if and when repeat "attacks" arise.

      In the meantime we can be adding to the list.

      Personally I object to the use of the word "MIRACLES." In a universe
      of LAW there are none.

      However, there may be actions and events, on the physical plane which
      are not explained by any laws of physical nature that we know of yet,
      or can yet examine.

      A. P. Sinnett, CAVES AND JUNGLES OF HINDOSTAN, and other sources, as
      well as the older Theosophical journals ( such as THEOSOPHIST, PATH,
      LUCIFER, VAHAN, the THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, and more modern ones such as
      THEOSOPHY, the THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, etc...) a fairly large list can
      be compiled.

      Mr. Michael Gomes helps us with many more instances in his
      bibliographical compilation of the documents relating to Theosophy for
      the last quarter of the 19th Century:

      THEOSOPHY IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (An Annotated Bibliography)
      Garland Publishing co., 1991


      Again I have been far more interested in seeking to understand the
      laws and reasons for "phenomena" than merely compiling (without
      explanation) the data of events.

      Here is a sample of what I consider to be valuable information on
      these matters for all of us to remember



      The field of psychic forces, phenomena, and dynamics is a vast one.
      Such phenomena are seen and the forces exhibited every day in all
      lands, but until a few years ago very little attention was given to
      them by scientific persons, while a great deal of ridicule was heaped
      upon those who related the occurrences or averred belief in the
      psychic nature.

      Are there psychic forces, laws, and powers? If there are, then there
      must be the phenomena. And if all that is true, then in man are the
      same powers and forces which are to be found anywhere in Nature.

      He is held by the Masters of Wisdom to be the highest product of the
      whole system of evolution, and mirrors in himself every power, however
      wonderful or terrible, of Nature; by the very fact of being such a
      mirror he is man.

      The genuine psychic -- or, as they are often called, magical --
      phenomena done by the Eastern faquir or yogee are all performed by the
      use of natural forces and processes not even dreamed of as yet by the

      LEVITATION of the body in apparent defiance of gravitation is a thing
      to be done with ease when the process is completely mastered. It
      contravenes no law. Gravitation is only half of a law. The Oriental
      sage admits gravity, if one wishes to adopt the term; but the real
      term is attraction, the other half of the law being expressed by the
      word repulsion, and both being governed by the great laws of
      electrical force. Weight and stability depend on polarity, and when
      the polarity of an object is altered in respect to the earth
      immediately underneath it, then the object may rise. But as mere
      objects are devoid of the consciousness found in man, they cannot rise
      without certain other aids. The human body, however, will rise in the
      air unsupported, like a bird, when its polarity is thus changed. This
      change is brought about consciously by a certain system of breathing
      known to the Oriental; it may be induced also by aid from certain
      natural forces spoken of later, in the cases of those who without
      knowing the law perform the phenomena, as with the saints of the Roman
      Catholic Church.

      A third great law which enters into many of the phenomena of the East
      and West is that of COHESION. The power of Cohesion is a distinct
      power of itself, and not a result as is supposed. This law and its
      action must be known if certain phenomena are to be brought about, as,
      for instance, what the writer has seen, the passing of one solid iron
      ring through another, or a stone through a solid wall. Hence another
      force is used which can only be called Dispersion. Cohesion is the
      determinating force, for, the moment the dispersing force is
      withdrawn, the cohesive force restores the particles to their original

      Following this out the Adept in such great dynamics is able to
      DISPERSE the atoms of an object -- excluding always the human body --
      to such a distance from each other as to render the object invisible,
      and then can send them along a current formed in the ether to any
      distance on the earth. At the desired point the dispersing force is
      withdrawn, when immediately cohesion reasserts itself and the object
      reappears intact. This may sound like fiction, but being known to the
      Lodge and its disciples as an actual fact, it is equally certain that
      Science will sooner or later admit the proposition.

      The instruments are in the body and brain of man. In the view of the
      Lodge "the human brain is an exhaustless generator of force," and a
      complete knowledge of the inner chemical and dynamic laws of Nature,
      together with a trained mind, give the possessor the power to operate
      the laws to which I have referred. This will be man's possession in
      the future, and would be his today were it not for blind dogmatism,
      selfishness, and materialistic unbelief.

      Using the same powers, the trained Adept can produce before the eye,
      OBJECTIVE TO THE TOUCH, material which was not visible before, and in
      any desired shape. This would be called creation by the vulgar, but it
      is simply evolution in your very presence. Matter is held suspended in
      the air about us. Every particle of matter, visible or still
      unprecipitated, has been through all possible forms, and what the
      Adept does is to select any desired form, existing, as they all do, in
      the Astral Light and then by effort of the Will and Imagination to
      clothe the form with the matter by precipitation.

      The distinct -- photographically and sharply definite -- image of
      every line of every letter or picture is formed in the mind, and then
      out of the air is drawn the pigment to fall within the limits laid
      down by the brain, "the exhaustless generator of force and form."

      This, then, naturally leads to the proposition that the human Will is
      all powerful and the Imagination is a most useful faculty with a
      dynamic force. The Imagination is the picture-making power of the
      human mind. In the ordinary average human person it has not enough
      training or force to be more than a sort of dream, but it may be
      trained. When trained it is the Constructor in the Human Workshop.
      Arrived at that stage it makes a matrix in the Astral substance
      through which effects objectively will flow. It is the greatest power,
      after Will, in the human assemblage of complicated instruments. The
      modern Western definition of Imagination is incomplete and wide of the
      mark. It is chiefly used to designate fancy or misconception and at
      all times stands for unreality. It is impossible to get another term
      as good because one of the powers of the trained Imagination is that
      of making an image. The word is derived from those signifying the
      formation or reflection of an image. This faculty used, or rather
      suffered to act, in an unregulated mode has given the West no other
      idea than that covered by "fancy."

      So far as that goes it is right but it may be pushed to a greater
      limit, which, when reached causes the Imagination to evolve in the
      Astral substance an actual image or form which may be then used in the
      same way as an iron molder uses a mold of sand for the molten iron. It
      is therefore the King faculty, inasmuch as the Will cannot do its work
      if the Imagination be at all weak or untrained. For instance, if the
      person desiring to precipitate from the air wavers in the least with
      the image made in the Astral substance, the pigment will fall upon the
      paper in a correspondingly wavering and diffused manner.

      To COMMUNICATE WITH ANOTHER MIND at any distance the Adept attunes all
      the molecules of the brain and all the thoughts of the mind so as to
      vibrate in unison with the mind to be affected, and that other mind
      and brain have also to be either voluntarily thrown into the same
      unison or fall into it voluntarily. So though the Adept be at Bombay
      and his friend in New York, the distance is no obstacle, as the inner
      senses are not dependent on an ear, but may feel and see the thoughts
      and images in the mind of the other person.

      And when it is desired to look into the mind and catch the thoughts of
      another and the pictures all around him of all he has thought and
      looked at, the Adept's inner sight and hearing are directed to the
      mind to be seen, when at once all is visible. But, as said before,
      only a rogue would do this, and the Adepts do not do it except in
      strictly authorized cases. The modern man sees no misdemeanor in
      looking into the secrets of another by means of this power, but the
      Adepts say it is an invasion of the rights of the other person.

      No man has the right, even when he has the power in his hand, to enter
      into the mind of another and pick out its secrets. This is the law of
      the Lodge to all who seek, and if one sees that he is about to
      discover the secrets of another he must at once withdraw and proceed
      no further. If he proceeds his power is taken from him in the case of
      a disciple; in the case of any other person he must take the
      consequence of this sort of burglary. For Nature has her laws and her
      policemen, and if we commit felonies in the Astral world the great Law
      and the guardians of it, for which no bribery is possible, will
      execute the penalty, no matter how long we wait, even if it be for ten
      thousand years. Here is another safeguard for ethics and morals. But
      until men admit this system of philosophy, they will not deem it wrong
      to commit felonies in fields where their weak human law has no effect,
      but at the same time by thus refusing the philosophy they will put off
      the day when all may have these great powers for the use of all.

      Among phenomena useful to notice are those consisting of the MOVING OF
      OBJECTS without physical contact. This may be done, and in more than
      one way. The first is to extrude from the physical body the Astral
      hand and arm, and with those grasp the object to be moved. This may be
      accomplished at a distance of as much as ten feet from the person. I
      only refer to the properties of the Astral substance and members. This
      will serve to some extent to explain several of the phenomena of

      The second method is to use the ELEMENTALS. They have the power when
      directed by the inner man to carry objects by changing the polarity,
      and then we see, as with the fakirs of India and some mediums in
      America, small objects moving apparently unsupported. These elemental
      entities are used when things are brought from longer distances than
      the length to which the Astral members may be stretched. It is no
      argument against this that mediums do not know they do so.

      Clairvoyance, clairaudience, and second-sight are all related very
      closely. Every exercise of any one of them draws in at the same time
      both of the others. They are but variations of one power. Sound is one
      of the distinguishing characteristics of the Astral sphere, and as
      light goes with sound, sight obtains simultaneously with hearing. To
      see an image with the Astral senses means that at the same time there
      is a sound, and to hear the latter infers the presence of a related
      image in Astral substance.

      It is perfectly well known to the true student of occultism that
      every sound produces instantaneously an image, and this, so long known
      in the Orient, has lately been demonstrated in the West in the
      production to the eye of sound pictures on a stretched tympanum.

      In the Astral Light are pictures of all things whatsoever that
      happened to any person, and as well also pictures of those events to
      come the causes for which are sufficiently well marked and made. If
      the causes are yet indefinite, so will be the images of the future.
      But for the mass of events for several years to come all the producing
      and efficient causes are always laid down with enough definiteness to
      permit the seer to see them in advance as if present. By means of
      these pictures, seen with the inner senses, all clairvoyants exercise
      their strange faculty. Yet it is a faculty common to all men, though
      in the majority but slightly developed; but occultism asserts that
      were it not for the germ of this power slightly active in every one no
      man could convey to another any idea whatsoever.

      In clairvoyance the pictures in the Astral Light pass before the inner
      vision and are reflected into the physical eye from within. They then
      appear objectively to the seer. If they are of past events or those to
      come, the picture only is seen; if of events actually then occurring,
      the scene is perceived through the Astral Light by the inner sense.
      The distinguishing difference between ordinary and clairvoyant vision
      is, then, that in clairvoyance with waking sight the vibration is
      communicated to the brain first, from which it is transmitted to the
      physical eye, where it sets up an image upon the retina, just as the
      revolving cylinder of the phonograph causes the mouthpiece to vibrate
      exactly as the voice had vibrated when thrown into the receiver. In
      ordinary eye vision the vibrations are given to the eye first and then
      transmitted to the brain. Images and sounds are both caused by
      vibrations, and hence any sound once made is preserved in the Astral
      Light from whence the inner sense can take it and from within transmit
      it to the brain, from which it reaches the physical ear. So in
      clairaudience at a distance the hearer does not hear with the ear, but
      with the center of hearing in the Astral body. Second-sight is a
      combination of clairaudience and clairvoyance or not, just as the
      particular case is, and the frequency with which future events are
      seen by the second-sight seer adds an element of prophecy.

      The highest order of clairvoyance -- that of spiritual vision -- is
      very rare. The usual clairvoyant deals only with the ordinary aspects
      and strata of the Astral matter. Spiritual sight comes only to those
      who are pure, devoted, and firm. It may be attained by special
      development of the particular organ in the body through which alone
      such sight is possible, and only after discipline, long training, and
      the highest altruism.

      The pure-minded and the brave can deal with the future and the present
      far better than any clairvoyant. But as the existence of these two
      powers proves the presence in us of the inner senses and of the
      necessary medium -- the Astral Light

      Dreams are sometimes the result of brain action automatically
      proceeding, and are also produced by the transmission into the brain
      by the real inner person of those scenes or ideas high or low which
      that real person has seen while the body slept. They are then strained
      into the brain as if floating on the soul as it sinks into the body.
      These dreams may be of use, but generally the resumption of bodily
      activity destroys the meaning, perverts the image, and reduces all to

      But the great fact of all dreaming is that some one perceives and
      feels therein, and this is one of the arguments for the inner person's
      existence. In sleep the inner man communes with higher intelligences,
      and sometimes succeeds in impressing the brain with what is gained,
      either a high idea or a prophetic vision, or else fails in consequence
      of the resistance of brain fiber.

      Apparitions and doubles are of two general classes. The one, astral
      shells or images from the astral world, either actually visible to the
      eye or the result of vibration within thrown out to the eye and thus
      making the person think he sees an objective form without. The other,
      the astral body of living persons and carrying full consciousness or
      only partially so endowed.

      Laborious attempts by Psychical Research Societies to prove
      apparitions without knowing these laws really prove nothing, for out
      of twenty admitted cases nineteen may be the objectivization of the
      image impressed on the brain. But that apparitions have been seen
      there is no doubt. Apparitions of those just dead may be either
      pictures made objective as described, or the Astral Body -- called
      Kama Rupa at this stage -- of the deceased. And as the dying thoughts
      and forces released from the body are very strong, we have more
      accounts of such apparitions than of any other class.

      The Adept may send out his apparition, which, however, consists of his
      conscious and trained astral body endowed with all his intelligence
      and not wholly detached from his physical frame.

      Theosophy does not deny nor ignore the physical laws discovered by
      science. It admits all such as are proven, but it asserts the
      existence of others which modify the action of those we ordinarily

      Behind all the visible phenomena is the occult cosmos with its ideal
      machinery; that occult cosmos can only be fully understood by means of
      the inner senses which pertain to it; those senses will not be easily
      developed if their existence is denied. Brain and mind acting together
      have the power to evolve forms, first as astral ones in astral
      substance, and later as visible ones by accretions of the matter on
      this plane.

      Objectivity depends largely on perception, and perception may be
      affected by inner stimuli. Hence a witness may either see an object
      which actually exists as such without, or may be made to see one by
      internal stimulus. This gives us three modes of sight: (a) with the
      eye by means of light from an object, (b) with the inner senses by
      means of the Astral Light, and (c) by stimulus from within which
      causes the eye to report to the brain, thus throwing the inner image
      without. The phenomena of the other senses may be tabulated in the
      same manner.

      The Astral substance being the register of all thoughts, sounds,
      pictures, and other vibrations, and the inner man being a complete
      person able to act with or without co-ordination with the physical,
      all the phenomena of hypnotism, clairvoyance, clairaudience,
      mediumship, and the rest of those which are not consciously performed
      may be explained. In the Astral substance are all sounds and pictures,
      and in the Astral man remain impressions of every event, however
      remote or insignificant; these acting together produce the phenomena
      which seem so strange to those who deny or are unaware of the
      postulates of occultism.

      Our departed do not see us here. They are relieved from the terrible
      pang such a sight would inflict. Once in a while a pure-minded, unpaid
      medium may ascend in trance to the state in which a deceased soul is,
      and may remember some of what was there heard; but this is rare. At
      the moment of death the soul may speak to some friend on earth before
      the door is finally shut.

      From all this and much more that could be adduced, the man of
      materialistic science is fortified in his ridicule, but the
      theosophist has to conclude that the entities, if there be any
      communicating, are not human spirits, and that the explanations are to
      be found in some other theories.

      Materialization of a form out of the air, independent of the medium's
      physical body, is a fact. But it is not a spirit. As was very well
      said by one of the "spirits", one way to produce this phenomenon is by
      the accretion of electrical and magnetic particles into one mass upon
      which matter is aggregated and an image reflected out of the Astral
      sphere. This is the whole of it.

      The second method is by the use of the Astral body of the living
      medium. In this case the Astral form exudes from the side of the
      medium, gradually collects upon itself particles extracted from the
      air and the bodies of the sitters present, until at last it becomes
      visible. Sometimes it will resemble the medium; at others it bears a
      different appearance. In almost every instance dimness of light is
      requisite because a high light would disturb the Astral substance in a
      violent manner and render the projection difficult. Some so-called
      materializations are hollow mockeries, as they are but flat plates of
      electrical and magnetic substance on which pictures from the Astral
      Light are reflected. These seem to be the faces of the dead, but they
      are simply pictured illusions.

      To understand the psychic phenomena found in the history of
      "spiritualism" it is necessary to know and admit the following:

      I. The complete heredity of man astrally, spiritually, and
      psychically, as a being who knows, reasons, feels, and acts through
      the body, the Astral body, and the soul.

      II. The nature of the mind, its operation, its powers; the nature and
      power of imagination; the duration and effect of impressions. Most
      important in this is the persistence of the slightest impression as
      well as the deepest; that every impression produces a picture in the
      individual aura; and that by means of this a connection is established
      between the auras of friends and relatives old, new, near, distant,
      and remote in degree: this would give a wide range of possible sight
      to a clairvoyant.

      III. The nature, extent, function, and power of man's inner Astral
      organs and faculties included in the terms Astral body and Kama. That
      these are not hindered from action by trance or sleep, but are
      increased in the medium when entranced; at the same time their action
      is not free, but governed by the mass chord of thought among the
      sitters, or by a predominating will, or by the presiding devil behind
      the scenes; if a sceptical scientific investigator be present, his
      mental attitude may totally inhibit the action of the medium's powers
      by what we might call a freezing process which no English terms will
      adequately describe.

      IV. The fate of the real man after death, his state, power, activity
      there, and his relation, if any, to those left behind him here.

      V. That the intermediary between mind and body -- the Astral body --
      is thrown off at death and left in the Astral light to fade away; and
      that the real man goes to Devachan.

      VI. The existence, nature, power, and function of the Astral light and
      its place as a register in Nature. That it contains, retains, and
      reflects pictures of each and every thing that happened to anyone, and
      also every thought; that it permeates the globe and the atmosphere
      around it; that the transmission of vibration through it is
      practically instantaneous, since the rate is much quicker than that of
      electricity as now known.

      VII. The existence in the Astral light of beings not using bodies like
      ours, but not human in their nature, having powers, faculties, and a
      sort of consciousness of their own; these include the elemental forces
      or nature sprites divided into many degrees, and which have to do with
      every operation of Nature and every motion of the mind of man. That
      these elementals act at seances automatically in their various
      departments, one class presenting pictures, another producing sounds,
      and others depolarizing objects for the purposes of apportation.
      Acting with them in this Astral sphere are the soulless men who live
      in it. To these are to be ascribed the phenomenon, among others, of
      the "independent voice," always sounding like a voice in a barrel just
      because it is made in a vacuum which is absolutely necessary for an
      entity so far removed from spirit. The peculiar timbre of this sort of
      voice has not been noticed by the spiritualists as important, but it
      is extremely significant in the view of occultism.

      VIII. The existence and operation of occult laws and forces in nature
      which may be used to produce phenomenal results on this plane; that
      these laws and forces may be put into operation by the subconscious
      man and by the elementals either consciously or unconsciously, and
      that many of these occult operations are automatic in the same way as
      is the freezing of water under intense cold or the melting of ice
      under heat.

      IX. That the Astral body of the medium, partaking of the nature of the
      Astral substance, may be extended from the physical body, may act
      outside of the latter, and may also extrude at times any portion of
      itself such as hand, arm, or leg and thereby move objects, indite
      letters, produce touches on the body, and so on ad infinitum. And that
      the Astral body of any person may be made to feel sensation, which,
      being transmitted to the brain, causes the person to think he is
      touched on the outside or has heard a sound.

      Mediumship is full of dangers because the Astral part of the man is
      now only normal in action when joined to the body. To become a medium
      means that you have to become disorganized physiologically and in the
      nervous system, because through the latter is the connection between
      the two worlds. The moment the door is opened all the unknown forces
      rush in, and as the grosser part of nature is nearest to us it is that
      part which affects us most; the lower nature is also first affected
      and inflamed because the forces used are from that part of us. We are
      then at the mercy of the vile thoughts of all men, and subject to the
      influence of the shells in Kama Loka. If to this be added the taking
      of money for the practice of mediumship, an additional danger is at
      hand, for the things of the spirit and those relating to the Astral
      world must not be sold. This is the great disease of American
      spiritualism which has debased and degraded its whole history.

      To attempt to acquire the use of the psychic powers for mere curiosity
      or for selfish ends is also dangerous for the same reasons as in the
      case of mediumship. As the civilization of the present day is selfish
      to the last degree and built on the personal element, the rules for
      the development of these powers in the right way have not been given
      out, but the Masters of Wisdom have said that philosophy and ethics
      must first be learned and practiced before any development of the
      other department is to be indulged in; and their condemnation of the
      wholesale development of mediums is supported by the history of
      spiritualism, which is one long story of the ruin of mediums in every

      Equally improper is the manner of the scientific schools which without
      a thought for the true nature of man indulge in experiments in
      hypnotism in which the subjects are injured for life, put into
      disgraceful attitudes, and made to do things for the satisfaction of
      the investigators which would never be done by men and women in their
      normal state.

      The Lodge of the Masters does not care for Science unless it aims to
      better man's state morally as well as physically, and no aid will be
      given to Science until she looks at man and life from the moral and
      spiritual side. For this reason those who know all about the psychical
      world, its denizens and laws, are proceeding with a reform in morals
      and philosophy before any great attention will be accorded to the
      strange and seductive phenomena possible for the inner powers of man.

      [Extracted and condensed from: Judge -- the OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY ]



      -----Original Message-----
      From: S
      Sent: Sunday, November 24, 2002 9:51 AM
      Subject: Theosophical miracle stories: a suggestion for categorization

      After all the discussion there seems to remain considerable confusion
      about the matter of evaluating the Theosophical miracle stories. I
      have thought about this at some length and would like to propose the
      following categorization system. Notice that of seven categories,
      two are probably evidence of unusual phenomena, one is ambiguous and
      non evidential, and four can be reasonably discounted. Interestingly
      from a Theosophical point of view, it turns out there are SEVEN

      Category I: This would include stories such as the Ootan Liatto story
      in which internal evidence makes it clear the "miracle" was actually
      a drug experience. Olcott's experience of walking into a cloud of
      smoke and seeing Blavatsky hold up multiple pencils when he knew
      there was only one there falls into this category, as do several
      other stories.

      Category II: Instances in which a hostile witness claims to have
      actually caught Blavatsky in the act of imposture or to have been
      recruited for an act of imposture, The testimonies of Emma Coulomb
      and others fall into this category.

      Category III: Stories in which the witness is known to have been a
      pathological liar. Every account by "W.C." Leadbeater falls into
      this category as Dr. Tillett has shown.

      Category IV: Stories in which the Theosophists themselves admit the
      phenomenon was a leg pull at best. Thus when Judge visited Adyar
      Hartmann came up behind him and threw a mahatma letter over his
      shoulder to show how letters could be "precipitated." The letters
      themselves admit most of them were delivered by non phenomenal means.

      Category V: Stories in which there is no testimony weakening the
      miraculous claim and which may in fact be miraculous, but which could
      easily have been done by any ten year old with a magic set. In these
      cases one can only judge the miraculous or non miraculous nature of
      the story based on prejudice. Unbiased observers would have to
      consider the question open. Most of the Theosophical miracle stories
      fall into this category.

      Category VI: Stories which, if accurately reported, can hardly be
      explained except by occult agency. The Shannon letter, the Gerhard
      letter, the buried teacups, and a few other phenomena fall into this
      category. These and the next category are the only ones worthy of
      serious consideration as candidates for proof of "occult" power.

      Category VII: Miracles which consisted of subjective phenomena. Thus
      Blavatsky claimed to have read newspapers that had not yet arrived,
      she and others claimed to have experienced "astral projection," etc.
      These stories are credible because the performers claimed no more
      than has been claimed by others before and since. However we explain
      it, people do have unusual experiences.
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