To develop our head forces, should we go “psychic” or go “spiritual”? Summary of 100 years of literature on a topic little-discussed and perhaps little-understood today.
The following revises, excerpts and updates an original, much longer version © 1965 by Theosophical University Press: Psychic vs. Spiritual Development, Expanding Horizons by James A. Long. Two young Theosophists interview the much older James Long.
Question — Two of us here belong to a group of young people, ages sixteen to twenty-two. We meet regularly to discuss all kinds of questions,,, We should like to know your viewpoint on psychic development.
Comment — I emphatically do not encourage psychic development. While it cannot be denied each of us has hidden powers potential within us, The Plan for their natural unfoldment is to be in concert and harmony with inner moral-ethical progress. In a moral context of truly human values, yogic powers have a place and can be used for the highest good of all concerned.
Pursuing psychic powers (siddhas) as an end in themselves, puts the cart in front of the horse. Safe and wise use can’t occur unless we put the horse in front of the cart. This means fulfilling our dally responsibilities to serve our self first, by attending to our chosen method of self-connection on a regular basis; then, make as many healthy choices as possible for family, co-workers and the world.
Question — If psychic powers are natural and potential in us, why should it be wrong to develop them?
Comment — I myself definitely frown upon the forced development of extra-normal powers. However, I have no criticism of individuals who believe otherwise. My criticism centers upon the misconception and misapplication of ancient spiritual principles still workable today. For millennia the sages have warned against untimely delving into the psychic as an end in itself. Our lower ego can use our curiosity, you see. Making practical daily choices, aligned with truly human moral and spiritual values; like, what you and your family put into their mouths; and, making better choices about which words come out of your mouth.
If we live the truth teachings spoken by all world teachers, as best we can, without emphasis on psychic powers, such psychic powers will not be denied to us–in the right and proper timing for each of us.
…Our main responsibility is not to develop psychic powers. Our main responsibility is to be present fully with our family, to our profession, to our nation, our local community and–not least–to our higher self. All of these on a daily basis as possible. [Let me ask you, would you rather be happy or have psychic powers? Do you assume the two must go together? Do you assume every developed psychic peson has fewer problems than you do now?]
Question — Would you say people developing psychic powers as an end in themself are definitely going the wrong way?
Comment — How can we possibly say to anyone, “Your way is wrong; follow my way, I’m right.” Each individual makes their own choices–and gets all the karma which does, or does not, accrue from their choices. Psychic powers are simply one more arena of choice, where individuals exercise what maturity they have. If anyone has as his prime objective developing his or her psychic nature; my guess is, they are following a road eventually leading into a blind alley. [Why? Because we have lifetimes of temptation to divorce and separate psychic powers from ethical-moral development, excusing ourselves from developing them in tandem.]
Take mediumship, and the ability to see visions and thought-forms and to have power to read another’s mind — How do these support you making more healthy choices for you and your family today? How do they necessarily lead to more self-connection, to more heartfelt encounters with people? I don’t get it. At best they run parallel to our goal; they are NOT the goal.
Why do I say this when there is such interest today in extrasensory powers? Such ability exists, obviously. If they were but figments of the imagination, there would be little danger in them. The unnatural forcing, by wrong meditation, breathing exercises, and other questionable practices can force open our psychic centers. [But what about fooling ourselves? Is this no longer possible? We CAN fool ourselves0; we CAN be tempted. What feels safe and trustworthy today, may not feel so safe down the road a bit.]
Jesus said: Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and all these things will be added unto you. This is what every world teacher has said: Seek first the path of [self-connection, heartfelt encounters with others and self-mastery]. Let’s go after the sunlight of our divinity within, rather than the moonlight of the psychic nature. …
Question — Developing ethically and morally is a slow process. Many people don’t like to wait for this, and wish to hasten their growth.
Comment — [That’s a classic Luciferic temptation.] If new to you, psychic development will expand your world and introduce you to real phenomena most people disbelieve and are unaware of. [We all want to expand our horizons. However, I challenge you to go interview ten psychics for 30 minutes each and then tell me if you would trade your life and your problems for their life and their problems.] I wonder if you will notice any pattern of] psychic imbalance; where, for a time at least, the soul finds itself out of alignment with its goals at either their spiritual or physical poles.
If our motive is heartfelt and our willingness to heal is strong in the direction of truth, we will eventually find a path right and workable for us, no matter how many wrong steps we may take in getting there.
When spiritual unfoldment includes self-connection and heartfelt encounters with others, it can be a most moving experience. However, if an individual looks to “get ahead of the crowd,” to get some kind of personal advantage, for any reason, then Lucifer is tempting. You may be trading the drama (consternation) of yogic powers (siddhas) for your own “wings to fly,” your expanding awareness of soul in yourself and in others. Your choice.
Excerpted, revised and expanded from http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/exphoriz/ex-psy.htm
To Learn More:
One of my “mashups” excerpting, adapting, revising and expanding on a topic with little or no presence online.
What is a Lucifer temptation? The Devil and Daniel Webster https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devil_and_Daniel_Webster
James A. Long was Leader of The Theosophical Society from 1951-1971. He was born August 27, 1898, at York, Pennsylvania. Following a career in private business, he worked during WWII as a management consultant in the office of the Quartermaster General in Washington, DC, and was later transferred to the Department of State where he assisted in the change over to peacetime responsibilities. While there he was sent as an Advisor to the US Delegation to the United Nations at the opening of the Second Session in 1946. Mr. Long joined the Theosophical Society in 1935. He was appointed business manager of its American Section in 1939. Upon retirement from government service in 1947, he moved to the Society’s headquarters in California where he continued to work closely with Colonel Arthur L. Conger, whom he succeeded as international head in 1951. That same year he founded Sunrise magazine as a vehicle for better understanding among all peoples.
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