The Astral Plane/Chapter V
IT is hoped that any reader who has been sufficiently interested to follow this treatise thus far, may by this time have a general idea of the astral plane and its possibilities, such as will enable him to understand and fit into their proper places in its scheme any facts in connection with it which he may pick up in his reading. Though only the roughest sketch has been given of a great subject, enough has perhaps been said to show the extreme importance of astral perception in the study of biology, physics, chemistry, astronomy, medicine, and history, and the great impulse which might be given to all these sciences by its development.
Yet its attainment should never be regarded as an end in itself, since any means adopted with that object in view would inevitably lead to what is called in the East the laukika method of development — a system by which certain psychic powers are indeed acquired, but only for the present personality; and since their acquisition is surrounded by no safeguards, the student is extremely likely to misuse them. To this class belong all systems which involve the use of drugs, invocation of elementals, or the practices of Hatha Yoga.
The other method, which is called the lokottara, consists of Raja Yoga or spiritual progress, and though it may be somewhat slower than the other, whatever is acquired along this line is gained for the permanent individuality, and never lost again, while the guiding care of a Master ensures perfect safety from misuse of power as long as His orders are scrupulously obeyed. The opening of astral vision must be regarded then only as a stage in the development of something infinitely nobler — merely as a step, a very small step, on that great Upward Path which leads men to the sublime heights of Adeptship, and beyond even that through glorious vistas of wisdom and power such as our finite minds cannot now conceive.
Yet let no one think it an unmixed blessing to have the wider sight of the astral plane, for upon one in whom that vision is opened, the sorrow and misery, the evil and the greed of the world press as an ever-present burden, until he often feels inclined to echo the passionate adjuration of Schiller: "Why hast thou cast me thus into the town of the ever-blind, to proclaim thine oracle with the opened sense? Take back this sad clear-sightedness; take from mine eyes this cruel light! Give me back my blindness — the happy darkness of my senses; take back thy dreadful gift!" This feeling is perhaps not unnatural in the earlier stages of the Path, yet higher sight and deeper knowledge soon bring to the student the perfect certainty that all things are working together for the eventual good of all — that <poem> Hour after hour, like an opening flower, Shall truth after truth expand; For the sun may pale, and the stars may fail, But the LAW of GOOD shall stand. Its splendour glows and its influence grows As Nature's slow work appears, Front the zoophyte small to the LORDS of all, Through kalpas and crores of years. <poem>