Self-Sacrifice and Regeneration
The Ancients were wise in their description of the spiritual enemies. A spirit has three foes—itself; the external world around it; and the spiritual foes that beset the upward path. These are described as the World, the Flesh and the Devil.
Begin with self—the Flesh. Conquer it, so that you are no longer slave to appetite, to passion, to ambition: so that self can be abnegated, and the spirit can come forth from its hermit-cell, and live, and breathe, and act in the free scope of the universal brotherhood. This is the first step. Self must be crucified: and from the grave where it lies buried will rise the enfranchised spirit untrammelled, free from material clogs.
This done, the soul will have no difficulty in despising the things which are seen, and in aspiring to the eternal verities. It will have learned that truth is to be found in them alone; and, seeing this, it will maintain a deathless struggle with all external and material forms, as being only adumbrations of he true, too often deceptive and unsatisfying. Matter will be regarded as the husk to be stripped off before the kernel of truth can be got at. Matter will be the deceptive, fleeting phantism behind which is veiled the truth upon which none but the purged eye may gaze. Such a soul, so taught, will not need to be told to avoid the external in all things, and to penetrate through the husk to the truth that lies below. It will have learned that the surface-meanings of things are for the babes in spiritual knowledge, and that beneath an obvious fact lurks a spiritual symbolic truth. Such a soul will see the correspondences of matter and spirit, and will recognize in the external only the rude signs by which is conveyed to the child so much of spiritual truth as its finite mind can grasp. To it, in veriest truth, to die has keen gain. The life that it leads is a life of the spirit; for flesh has been conquered, and the world has ceased to charm.
But in proportion as the spiritual perceptions are quickened, so do the spiritual foes come into more prominent view. The adversaries, who are the sworn enemies of spiritual progress and enlightenment, will beset the aspirant’s path, and remain for him a ceaseless cause of conflict throughout his career of probation. By degrees they will be vanquished by the faithful soul that presses on but conflict with them will never wholly cease during probation-life, for it is the means whereby the higher faculties are developed, and the steps by which entrance is won to the higher spheres of bliss.
This, briefly, is the life of the progressive spirit—self-sacrifice, whereby self is crucified; self-denial, whereby the world is vanquished; and spiritual conflict, whereby the adversaries are beaten back. It is no stagnation; even no rest; no finality. It is a daily death, out of which springs the risen life. It is a constant fight, out of which is won perpetual progress. It is the quenchless struggle of the light that is within to shine out more and store into the radiance of the perfect day. And thus only it is that what you call heaven is woo.
[Sie itur id astra. That is very much the central Idea of Christianity, and also of Buddhism, as well as of the old Occultists. Christ’s sayings teem with the notion that animated his own life. The great difficulty is to carry out such an abstract system into operation in the world.]
Therein is the struggle, as he himself said, to be in the world, but not of the world. The high ideal is well nigh impossible for those who have upon them the care of daily toil. Hence we have striven to withdraw you, so far as we can, from the objective side of spirit-intercourse, foreseeing that it would bn hurtful to you. You must strive to rise above the material and to leave behind. Such intercourse is fitted only for those who can be secluded from the cares of daily life.
[I said long ago that I believed mediumship, if carried out to be incompatible with daily work in the world. The very development of sensitiveness, which grows so rapidly, is quite enough to unfit the medium for rude contact with the world, or, at any rate, to encourage in him moods, and draw round him influences which make him unfit for work.]
To a great extent it is so; and therefore we have drawn the stove material side of mediumship from you, and that should develop the spiritual, in which no such danger lurks. At any rate, you may trust us to do what is wise. The danger is when they who guide are unfit for the work. It is then that risk becomes serious. Be content; your course is clear. Only remember that now is the hour and power of darkness.
About thirty years ago I lived in a capital city of Germany. My occupation led me forth at 8 o’clock in the morning, and I did not return till one, my mind during the time being consciously actively employed. As soon as I reached my own door, and raised my hand to ring the bell, I saw all the persons who had called during my absence, and even the postman with the letters, pass before my mind’s eye as in a dissolving view, and always in the same order as that in which they had come. Many of those persons I saw afterwards, but several of them I never saw in my life, for they never called again, and yet to this day their faces, dress, &c., are quite clear in my imagination, and even their apparent ages; they were all between twenty and twenty-eight. Of the postman, I only saw the dark figure, his person was of no importance to me, but his hand and the number of letters, one, two, three, were quite distinct When this phenomenon occurred to me for the first or second time, I was quite astonished and could not account for it. Some days’ reflection, however, led me to a solution, which was sufficient for me at least Socrates says in one of his discourses, “The mind of every person has the power to foresee or foretell events: that is, a man thinks with interest of some event, which may or may not happen in the future, and the mind holds fast to that which will really happen.’’ For instance, there is a warm and angry dispute between two nations; will it lead to war? A great battle is expected; which side will win? A vessel sails from one port to another, as the Strathclyde from London to Bombay; will she arrive safe? From my own experience I would add that the mind must solve the question unconsciously, and that it must take a warm interest in the event. I have no doubt that during my absence from home from eight to one o’clock, the mind, unknown to me, was occupied with the thought as to whether any person or persons might have called, and also respecting the postman and the letters, and had formed its conclusion the moment I was about to ring, and hence the apparent vision:
In the winter of 1847, two noble Polish families took up their residence in the town in which I then lived. With these families I soon became intimately acquainted, and in one of them I took great interest. They were a young couple. Count B — was twenty-one years of age, the Countess eighteen. The latter was more amiable than beautiful, and her inexperience, candor, and innocence, not frittered away in a stream of gay society, endowed her with a charm which beauty caunot bestow. One day her cousin, Count Y—, called to pay me a visit, and after the usual compliments, and remarks about the weather, the general introduction to many conversations, he asked whether I had heard what had happened to his cousin? I replied that I had not, and hoped that it was nothing disagreeable. He then informed me that all his money had been stolen, and that the circumstance was so much the more unfortunate as there was no possibility of getting money for some time, as their part of Poland was in a state of revolution. I expressed my regret and inquired how much the sum was. He answered 1,500 florins. The conversation then turned on politics, for the Poles are all great politicians when they know they may speak their opinions without being denounced. At length Count Y— rose to depart On which I asked him whether he should see his cousin that evening. He replied “Certainly” “Well, then, give him my compliments, and tell him not to be uneasy about his money, as he will get it all again with the exception of 100 florins, but that is lost” He regarded me with astonishment, and asked me how I knew that. I replied I could not explain to him now, but I knew it, and knew also that the 100 florins would never be found, of that there was no doubt.
A few days afterward I paid a visit to Connt B — He was not at home, but the young countess complained to me of their serious loss at such a time. I asked whether her <... continues on page 1-135 >
- Self-Sacrifice and Regeneration by unknown author (signed as Imperator), Spiritual Scientist, v. 4, No. 11, May 18, 1876, p. 128. From London Spiritualist
- Supersensous Perception by Rothwell, S. S. (signed as Prof. S. S. Rothwell), Spiritual Scientist, v. 4, No. 11, May 18, 1876, p. 128-130