Student. - If I understand you, an elemental is a centre of force, without intelligence, without moral character or tendencies, but capable of being directed in its movements by human thoughts, which may, consciously or not, give it any form, and to a certain extent intelligence; in its simplest form it is visible as a disturbance in a transparent medium, such as would be produced by a "glass fish, so transparent as to be invisible, swimming through the air of the room," and leaving behind him a shimmer, such as hot air makes when rising from a stove. Also, elementals, attracted and vitalized by certain thoughts, may effect a lodgment in the human system (of which they then share the government with the ego), and are very hard to get out.
Sage. - Correct, in general, except as to their "effecting a lodgment." Some classes of elementals, however, have an intelligence of their own and a character, but they are far beyond our comprehension and ought perhaps to have some other name.
That class which has most to do with us answers the above description. They are centres of force or energy which are acted on by us while thinking and in other bodily motions. We also act on them and give them form by a species of thought which we have no register of. As, one person might shape an elemental so as to seem like an insect, and not be able to tell whether he had thought of such a thing or not. For there is a vast unknown country in each human being which he does not himself understand until he has tried, and then only after many initiations.
That "elementals . . . may effect a lodgment in the human system, of which they then share the government, and are very hard to get out" is, as a whole, incorrect. It is only in certain cases that any one or more elementals are attracted to and "find lodgment in the human system." In such cases special rules apply. We are not considering such cases. The elemental world interpenetrates this, and is therefore eternally present in the human system.
As it (the elemental world) is automatic and like a photographic plate, all atoms continually arriving at and departing from the "human system" are constantly assuming the impression conveyed by the acts and thoughts of that person, and therefore, if he sets up a strong current of thought, he attracts elementals in greater numbers, and they all take on one prevailing tendency or color, so that all new arrivals find a homogeneous color or image which they instantly assume. On the other hand, a man who has many diversities of thought and meditation is not homogeneous, but, so to say, particolored, and so the elementals may lodge in that part which is different from the rest and go away in like condition. In the first case it is one mass of elementals similarly vibrating or electrified and colored, and in that sense may be called one elemental, in just the same way that we know one man as Jones, although for years he has been giving off and taking on new atoms of gross matter.
Student. - If they are attracted and repelled by thoughts, do they move with the velocity of thought, say from here to the planet Neptune?
Sage. - They move with the velocity of thought. In their world there is no space or time as we understand those terms. If Neptune be within the astral sphere of this world, then they go there with that velocity, otherwise not; but that "if" need not be solved now.
Student. - What determines their movements besides thought, - e.g., when they are floating about the room?
Sage. - Those other classes of thoughts above referred to; certain exhalations of beings; different rates and ratios of vibration among beings; different changes of magnetism caused by present causes or by the moon and the year; different polarities; changes of sound; changes of influences from other minds at a distance.
Student. - When so floating, can they be seen by any one, or only by those persons who are clairvoyant?
Sage. - Clairvoyance is a poor word. They can be seen by partly clairvoyant people. By all those who can see thus; by more people, perhaps, than are aware of the fact.
Student. - Can they be photographed, as the rising air from the hot stove can?
Sage. - Not to my knowledge yet. It is not impossible, however.
Student. - Are they the lights, seen floating about a dark séance room by clairvoyant people?
Sage. - In the majority of cases those lights are produced by them.
Student. - Exactly what is their relation to light, that makes it necessary to hold séances in the dark?
Sage. - It is not their relation to light that makes darkness necessary, but the fact that light causes constant agitation and alteration in the magnetism of the room. All these things can be done just as well in the light of day.
If I should be able to make clear to you "exactly what is their relation to light," then you would know what has long been kept secret, the key to the elemental world. This is kept guarded because it is a dangerous secret. No matter how virtuous you are, you could not - once you knew the secret - prevent the knowledge getting out into the minds of others who would not hesitate to use it for bad purposes.
Student. - I have noticed that attention often interferes with certain phenomena; thus a pencil will not write when watched, but writes at once when covered; or a mental question cannot be answered till the mind has left it and gone to something else. Why is this?
Sage. - This kind of attention creates confusion. In these things we use desire, will, and knowledge. The desire is present, but knowledge is absent. When the desire is well formed and attention withdrawn, the thing is often done; but when our attention is continued we only interrupt, because we possess only half attention. In order to use attention, it must be of that sort which can hold itself to the point of a needle for an indefinite period of time.
Student. - I have been told that but few people can go to a séance without danger to themselves, either of some spiritual or astral contamination, or of having their vitality depleted for the benefit of the spooks, who suck the vital force out of the circle through the medium, as if the former were a glass of lemonade and the latter a straw. How is this?
Sage. - Quite generally this happens. It is called Bhut worship by the Hindus.
Student. - Why are visitors at a séance often extremely and unaccountably tired next day?
Sage. - Among other reasons, because mediums absorb the vitality for the use of the "spooks," and often vile vampire elementaries are present.
Student. - What are some of the dangers at séances?
Sage. - The scenes visible - in the Astral - at séances are horrible, inasmuch as these "spirits" - bhuts - precipitate themselves upon sitters and mediums alike; and as there is no séance without having present some or many bad elementaries - half dead human beings, - there is much vampirizing going on. These things fall upon the people like a cloud or a big octopus, and disappear within them as if sucked in by a sponge. That is one reason why it is not well to attend them in general.
Elementaries are not all bad, but, in a general sense, they are not good. They are shells, no doubt of that. Well, they have much automatic and seemingly intelligent action left if they are those of strongly material people who died attached to the things of life. If of people of an opposite character, they are not so strong. Then there is a class which are really not dead, such as suicides, and sudden deaths, and highly wicked people. They are powerful. Elementals enter into all of them, and thus get a fictitious personality and intelligence wholly the property of the shell. They galvanize the shell into action, and by its means can see and hear as if beings themselves, like us. The shells are, in this case, just like a sleepwalking human body. They will through habit exhibit the advancement they got while in the flesh. Some people, you know, do not impart to their bodily molecules the habit of their minds to as great extent as others. We thus see why the utterances of these so-called "spirits" are never ahead of the highest point of progress attained by living human beings, and why they take up the ideas elaborated day-by-day by their votaries. This séance worship is what was called in Old India the worship of the Pretas and Bhuts and Pisachas and Gandharvas.
I do not think any elementary capable of motive had ever any other than a bad one; the rest are nothing, they have no motive and are only the shades refused passage by Charon.
Student. - What is the relation between sexual force and phenomena?
Sage. - It is at the bottom. This force is vital, creative, and a sort of reservoir. It may be lost by mental action as well as by physical. In fact its finer part is dissipated by mental imaginings, while physical acts only draw off the gross part, that which is the "carrier" (upadhi) for the finer.
Student. - Why do so many mediums cheat, even when they can produce real phenomena?
Sage. - It is the effect of the use of that which in itself is sublimated cheating, which, acting on an irresponsible mind, causes the lower form of cheat, of which the higher is any illusionary form whatever. Besides, a medium is of necessity unbalanced somewhere.
They deal with these forces for pay, and that is enough to call to them all the wickedness of time. They use the really gross sorts of matter, which causes inflammation in corresponding portions of the moral character, and hence divagations from the path of honesty. It is a great temptation. You do not know, either, what fierceness there is in those who "have paid" for a sitting and wish "for the worth of their money."
Student. - When a clairvoyant, as a man did here a year ago, tells me that "he sees a strong band of spirits about me," and among them an old man who says he is a certain eminent character, what does he really see? Empty and senseless shells? If so, what brought them there? Or elementals which have got their form from my mind or his?
Sage. - Shells, I think, and thoughts, and old astral pictures. If for instance, you once saw that eminent person and conceived great respect or fear for him, so that his image was graven in your astral sphere in deeper lines than other images, it would be seen for your whole life by seers, who, if untrained - as they all are here - could not tell whether it was an image or reality; and then each sight of it is a revivification of the image.
Besides, not all would see the same thing. Fall down, for instance, and hurt your body, and that will bring up all similar events and old forgotten things before any seer's eye.
The whole astral world is a mass of illusion; people see into it, and then, through the novelty of the thing and the exclusiveness of the power, they are bewildered into thinking they actually see true things, whereas they have only removed one thin crust of dirt.
Student. - Accept my thanks for your instruction.
Sage. - May you reach the terrace of enlightenment.
Path, May, 1888