Symbols of the world's religions



Meher Baba

Occultism is a branch of knowledge concerned with the study of certain aspects and forces of the universe and the human personality. In this respect there is no difference in principle between occultism and other sciences concerned with the study of these subjects. The difference between occultism and other sciences arises because other sciences are concerned with aspects and forces directly or indirectly accessible to ordinary observation and manipulation; whereas occultism is concerned with those hidden aspects and forces that are essentially inaccessible to ordinary observation and manipulation.

The development of occult knowledge is conditioned by the unfoldment of the latent powers of the human spirit. Many of the psychic research societies of modern times approach occult knowledge with the same attitude that characterizes the study of other fields of knowledge. In principle there seems to be no reason why it should be regarded as either less valuable or more valuable than other fields of theoretical knowledge. One finds these societies trying to pursue occult knowledge in an organized and cooperative manner.

The Perfect Masters have deemed it desirable to reveal to the generality of mankind some theoretical knowledge about certain important features of spiritual life — such as immortality and reincarnation, the existence of different bodies and planes, and the laws concerning evolution and the operation of karma. Such knowledge gives the right sort of background for spiritual aspiration and effort, and brings the perspective of the average person as near to the Truth as is possible under the circumstances. However, with the exception of such general knowledge about fundamentals, the Masters have consistently preferred to attach minimum importance to the spread of detailed knowledge about occult phenomena. They have even scrupulously withheld information concerning those points likely to have vital bearing upon occultism as an art.

In occultism, more than in any other science, there is a sharp and significant division between those who know and those who do not know. In other sciences, to a certain extent, indirect knowledge can take the place of direct knowledge. In occultism, indirect knowledge can in no way approximate direct knowledge in import and significance. Therefore, though occultism is an important science, the spread of purely theoretical information about the occult can have little importance. For those who have no firsthand experience of the occult, purely theoretical acquaintance with some occult facts can have no special value. These occult phenomena are bound to remain for them more or less in the same category as descriptions of unseen lands or works of imagination.

However, even the spread of purely theoretical information about occult facts is accompanied at times with mischief, since it is likely to arouse idle curiosity and stimulate craving for acquiring control over unknown forces with a view to using them for selfish ends. There is nothing particularly spiritual about occult power as such. Like any other mundane power or scientific invention, it is capable of being used for good ends or bad. It gives immense scope for cooperative work on the higher planes, but this necessarily implies a spiritual preparedness to shoulder the special responsibility. Occultism as a science may be said to be more or less on the same footing as other sciences, but occultism as an art stands by itself.

The novice may seek some occult powers and, within certain limits, even succeed in acquiring them. But this new attainment will prove to be a curse rather than a blessing if he is not spiritually prepared for the adequate fulfillment of the new responsibility implied in the acquisition of the new powers. Even the slightest misuse of occult power causes a severe reaction and creates a binding for the soul. Sometimes it may retard the progress of the aspirant and may even lead to a considerable setback. Apart from the spiritual ruin the novice may invite upon himself through indiscreet use of occult power, he is bound to be a source of incalculable harm to others over whom he has succeeded in wielding a formidable advantage.


DISCOURSES, 7th ed, pp. 193-195
1987 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust


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