Practical Occultism by William Q. Judge

Theosophical University Press Online Edition

Letters from January 1888 - March 1888

Jan. 31st, 1888
Prof. Chas. H. Sykes
San Francisco, Calif.

My dear Sir and Bro:

. . . . It is lamentably true of Theosophical, as of all other, Societies that the regular payment of regular dues is a thing usually forgotten or disliked. Probably members do not realize that the expenses of an office are incessant, and that those who contribute their time and labor as an offering to the cause ought not to have the additional care of a constant anxiety as to the receipts necessary for the work. Generally speaking, it is no doubt true, as you say, that "rules should be enforced." And yet one shrinks from insisting on suspension or expulsion — the only available penalties — if dues are unpaid, especially when one remembers that real poverty is sometimes the reason; and all the more so when this would appear (however unjustly) to give a certain mercenary tone to a Society of Brothers. You can easily see the difficulties if you will think over the whole topic in your own mind.

My own conviction is, and has been, that, while every member of the T. S. should feel it both his duty and his privilege to sustain the Society by at least the prompt payment of his dues, it would be undesirable, perhaps disastrous, to attempt their collection by disciplinary measures, and that all that can well be done is to set forth the great need the office has for these small dues, and to suggest to members that, whatever may be the indifference or the shortcomings of others, each one may fulfil his own obligations and exhibit his own interest. I think, if you will expand this idea in your interviews with the Brethren near you, that they will see its justice and propriety.

Very truly and fraternally yours,
Gen Secy T. S.

Feb. 1st 1888
Mr. Wm. R. Savage,
Baltimore, Md.

My dear Sir,

The questions you put refer rather to physical than to psychical matters. It is, of course, possible that mirages may be produced by nature-spirits, but the question is wholly speculative and of little practical moment. Ordinary scientific explanations seem adequate to account for them, and, when this is the case, I doubt the wisdom of seeking others more remote. Similarly as to the remarkable pink sunsets we so well remember, — so far, at least, as these have been explained.

I am so burdened with work and duties, personal, editorial, and official, that I have to ask your indulgence for a reply so brief. Very truly and fraternally,


The only available books on those sunsets are eastern ones in Sanscrit untranslated yet into English. Mirages have nothing to do with spiritual development. They occur also in cities in the East. Elementals are concerned in all the operations of nature. J

Feb 3d 1888

My dear Harte,

The "Address to the Archbishop of Canterbury" is peculiarly able, well-conceived, and temperate, and two persons here expressed a wish that it should be printed and circulated as a pamphlet. . . .

I am very glad you like the "Epitome." Nearly 4000 have now been used. The plates have been electrotyped for permanent use. What did Madame say of it?

Where did Redway get his authority for raising the price of the Path? Am I to respond by exacting 14 shillings for "Lucifer"? Don't do anything about this. I'll attend to it.

I fear that Mrs. C.-O. does not sufficiently guard her tongue. We all, however, know Olcott too well to suspect him of littleness. Ever yours,


Let your head fall off! No difficulty occurred about the Densmores and they never applied to join the T. S. and so I cant see why you didnt join application with H. P. B. In such company you ought to be willing to endorse the devil himself. How can we judge anybody, and is our T. S. such a holy body that only proved saints are permitted to enter it? If you don't like to put your name on the app'l then sign mine to it.

In big hurry and will reply more fully soon.

Feb. 14th 1888
Mr. J. F. Crawford,
Saratoga, Wyoming Territory.

My dear Sir and Bro,

I duly received your application and the accompanying $3.50, secured the counter-signatures of 2 members of the T. S., and have great pleasure in admitting and enrolling you as a Member-at-Large. I enclose your Diploma.

Your description of the conflicts and discouragements you undergo on the Way is a vivid and truthful picture of the experience every one encounters if making an honest and persistent effort to subdue the lower to the Higher Self. Now observe 2 things: 1st, that the very strength of this lower self, thus asserting itself in vigorous resistance and in revival after defeat, is the best evidence of the need for the struggle, for, evidently, the greater the dominance of carnal impulses, the greater the reason for their overthrow; 2d that your regret over any failure in the fight proves on which side are your truest and deepest sympathies, and is thus an earnest of the time when there shall be no more failure and no more regret. If you did not care whether you lost or won, there would be ground for alarm; there is none so long as a defeat is followed by regret and by a renewed effort.

You will always find victory over evil thoughts most practicable if they are grappled with on first appearance and before making headway. It is for their reception and not for their appearance that one is responsible. A minister, once consulted on this topic, replied with an apt illustration: — "I cannot prevent the birds from flying over my head, but I can prevent their making nests in my hair." There is very much in this.

Do not expect to "drift" into calmer seas. You must row there. Progress comes from effort, not from inaction. And of the success of that effort there can be no question in any mind realizing the enormous advantage good has over evil.

I send you my best wishes and hopes, and am

Always truly and fraternally yours,
Gen Sec T. S.

New York, Feb. 18, 1888
J. Ransom Bridge, Esq,
Pres't Boston T. S.

Dear Sir and Bro: —

Your letter to the Aryan T. S. was submitted to that Society, who authorize me to reply to it, which I have pleasure in doing.

Your question is: "How does your Branch regard the 3d of the Society's declared objects." ["A third object, pursued by a portion of the members of the Society, is to investigate unexplained laws of nature and the psychical powers of man." — Report of Proceedings, General Council, T.S., December, 1886]

After preliminary consideration the Branch first concluded that there was a certain vagueness in the question which would necessarily preclude a very definite reply, and compel the answer to be more or less general.

In the first place, we consider that all of the Society's declared objects are together one whole, each important, and that we must remember that the first one having been made a condition precedent (in acceptance) to membership in the Society, it must never be lost sight of under any consideration, when the others are being pursued, inasmuch as that first object is the raison d'etre of the Society and is the source and inward life of the Body as well as that which gives a reason — the reason held by the Masters — for pursuing either of the others. So that if a student pursues the 3d object for his own sake or for the sake of any reward or result to be gained from the pursuit, he is in error and not in the right Path.

He may, and at some time must, investigate the unexplained laws of Nature and the psychical powers of man, but he is not to investigate or approach phenomena from the standpoint of Magic, which is only the outshowing of those very laws. He cannot be at one with other men until he knows these laws and understands his own nature, but as the first object is first because it is the important goal of his efforts, he should be sure of his motive at every step. For, the reason why those laws and phenomena are to be understood is, not that we may perform phenomena or have psychic powers, but in order that Universal Brotherhood may become a fact universal. No Adept at any time (except a Black one) ever became such through study of phenomena or knowledge of the laws which govern them, but because his motive for effort was to find God, or the All Wise, and to establish unity and true Brotherhood; and in that search the adepts have found the subject of which you enquire to be of secondary importance because incidental, and yet not to be avoided, since it constitutes a part of the great whole.

So then he who begins by the study of the phenomena remains in the realm of phenomena, where he is surrounded by a constant and varying whirl of illusions. This is more especially the case with those students who have claimed in their hearts from the Law the right to advance upon the Path; they more than others are surrounded by these illusions and reached at by the subtle influences which line the road. Such students are very likely to be deceived and drawn into grievous trouble. The Law and the Lodge — both being one — refuse no one. But each must advance through the road laid down by nature, and woe be to him if he rushes into the realm of phenomena unprepared. The needful preparation is not an investigation of the psychical world, but purification of heart, of speech, and of action. Hence the great Initiate St. Paul said: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and have not Charity, I am nothing." By "Charity" he meant love — Brotherhood, Unity; by "nothing" he meant "powerless" — powerless to advance, powerless to avert the final calamity sure to come from a negation of or inattention to that object found at the head of our Society's only declarations. The great Lord Buddha declared in the same strain when he said that a man might be able to hear through the vast reaches of the ten points of space, or to smell the odors denied to ordinary senses, or to see all the grand and varied sights of the curious and unexplained realms of Nature, and yet not know Truth. Why? Because these powers, principalities, and properties compose the illusory husk woven about the central Truth.

A certain phase of alleged phenomena remains to be noticed, that is, the claim that some one or other of the Masters who are behind the Society have appeared at theosophical gatherings so as to be recognized. You will perhaps recall a story recently printed in a Magazine published in Boston. In such we do not believe, and our older members, the writer among the number, concur in saying that in whatever genuine writings we have from Masters through their chosen disciples, it is clearly shown that such could not be real, but must in every instance, even where the narrators believed what they related, be a delusion and a snare. And under this head we would like to refer you to the Theosophical correspondence between Count St. Martin and Baron Liebistorf. It is our belief that Masters do not thus appear at such gatherings or any other. They do appear, we think, among men, but not with their proper form, always assuming a form which is known among Them as Their illusionary form, which would not be recognizable as that of a Master; and also that the Master does not appear to his chosen chelas even, until they have become entirely pure in heart, speech, and action. How then could They be seen by mere beginners in Theosophy, who do not even know the outer shell of themselves? For us who reverence the real Masters of whatever school such tales are not only idle, but smack a little of blasphemy against a high ideal. Further than that, such relations argue a want of even a merely intellectual knowledge of the conditions imposed in these matters, and of many things relating to Masters and their chelas which are published in various places and quite accessible. It would seem wise to be acquainted with these before hazarding acceptance of such tales or attempting trials of our own.

Fraternally yours
W Q J Pres't A. T. S.

P. S. Personally I can say that the foregoing expresses my sentiments and is within my knowledge. J

Feb. 22, 1888
W. R. Savage Esq

My dear Sir:

I have your inquiry about position of the head in 'sleeping.'

The confusion in the different directions given by different writers arises from the fact that in all these matters one must experiment and see what is best for oneself, consequently each has given his own result. There is no fixed and general rule that each must follow. And so my opinion would only give you my individual experience.

In general, the head north is best; yet many are injured by it. It is the best general position for electrical and magnetic currents; the next best position is, the head east.

The best way for you is to TRY and not wait to find opinion.

Yours truly

P.S. Have you changed your address?

Mar. 20 1888
H. F. James Esq

Dear Sir and Bro:

You ask me what laws govern appearances of the Brothers and for what purposes they appear in the T. S., and if they interfere with its organization, and how they regard formation of Branches. This reply is not private but should not be used with anyone piecemeal but if referred to should be shown.

You should study the probable being and constitution of an Adept. He must be (if high) a pure man and one who does not find it necessary to appear to impure persons. By impure I mean not only lust but any and every sort of fault: e.g. fault-finding, anger, bickering, self seeking, etc. It is therefore impossible for a chela who is not thoroughly purified to see an Adept of the character of those behind our Society, for to see Him the chela must be able to pass through the blaze about Him and that cannot be done while we are in our unregenerate condition.

Sometimes the Brothers appear, but it is very seldom and then only for a great purpose. As one appeared once to Col. Olcott so as to encourage him to go on with the great work of the T. S. the Adept knowing that he would be the man to do the hard work. Sometimes They send a high Chela but just as seldom. Newly pledged chelas are not sent on trial trips that they cannot accomplish nor for small trifling ends. The Brothers have better means than that for bringing about their ends. Untrained trance seers in this country (and that includes almost all) do not see the Brothers but only the ideal pictures of Them that others have formed. And those pictures seem alive because they are vivified by elementals.

I do not believe that anyone except H. P. Blavatsky now out in the world can consciously send messages to the Brothers. I know from the rules laid down by the Brothers over and over again that their Chelas dare not try to approach Them for people's inquiries, wishes and objects, nor for their own. These Chelas have a work to do; they must do it under what instructions they have, and wait 'till they are asked by the Master before they approach Him.

The Masters of the T. S. have over and over again said that this section of it to which you and I belong is the lowest and exoteric section, and hence it is meant to give through it the light of the Masters to all men so as that they may be saved if possible. And from that lowest section ascent can be made to the others.

Do not be troubled by what others may at any time tell you Masters say on particular topics just arising: when you understand yourself better then you may hope to hear from Them and they require no man to be guided except by his inner voice. When he has got to hear that, then he can try further.

Fraternally yours

Mar 20, 1888
Wm. Erwin, Esq

Dear Sir and Bro:

Zadok and Julius request me to reply as follows to your question whether the giving up to Christ as in churches is not the same as giving up all to the Higher self, except that the first is unintelligent and the latter not?

It is not the same in effect although it springs from a similar desire. If the Higher Self is known to be the All then the difference is that Christ is not the All but a certain person — the Son of God — and therefore less than the All.

In the first case they go at death to that imaginary Christ, in the second case if the surrender is complete they go to the All which is the Higher Self. By the first, repeated experiences are needed to get to the latter which must at last be done, but by knowing the Self as the All we more quickly reach beyond death and rebirth because our meditation is toward the whole or Universals.


Mar 29, 1888.
J. Ransom Bridge Esq, F. T. S.

Dear Bro. Bridge:

I have yours of 28th. We are holding over the matter referred to for No. 6.

Let us refer to the balance of yours. In the first place, although I have never intended to judge a man nor do I think I ought to, I have been before this accused of doing so. That cannot be helped as we are all mortal and I do not rebel against any one's judgment passed on me, but would wish to be able to improve under all criticism. Since we ought not to care for the applause of the world we should look within when criticised to see if we are wrong in the way the critic points out.

Now as Mr. Page has nowhere described "the way" in which the alleged Master "made himself known" I could not, even by inference, be said to have referred to a "Way" not mentioned. Nor did I refer to Mr. Page in words, and further I did not say anything but expressed the Branch views. Those views however are also my own. So I must deny that I have declared anyone's statements "to be false," and by rereading mine you will see that the letter very carefully said "even when the narrators believe what they say."

It is positively laid down by Masters and by such exponents of Theirs as H. P. Blavatsky, that They do not appear to any one (except for a high and noble purpose) until he has irrevocably pledged himself to Them. And the cases of "a high and noble purpose," in this inquiry, are rare.

It is therefore necessary to know who saw this alleged Master at St. Louis or where? Did only one person see? Who was that person? Were others present and if so, did they see also? Is it a report made by one person or was it an appearance to one who alone cognized and then reported? All these questions should be settled before we go to decide what the appearance was or meant. A person in a trance may report such a thing and not see a Master. A trance medium will see the pictures of Masters imagined by [you] or by me.

Then as to Olcott. He was irrevocably pledged to Masters and has seen Them once.

Mabel Collins has not yet said she saw a master. Light on the Path was precipitated; and further, you should know that high chelas do these things and appear for Masters but are not Masters. Neither of the chelas who wrote "Man" has seen the Master or Masters. They saw the messengers. This I know for I know them.

Now you say "I for one try to use for a balance the light of my own reason." Have you obtained yet the facts on which your reason is based or works regarding this question?

Please recollect I speak impersonally and that I do not wish to make a question with St. Louis or other place, but am dealing with a supposititious case. And if I am not in error when our letter was sent I had not seen the St. Louis letter.

Please say if we are to use the matter sent, in No. 6. You have not yet said.

Fraternally yours

May 1888 - June 1888