True Occult Path
was in February of this year 1981 that some unseen intelligence breathed
once again life into this work to send it forth as an aid to the Pilgrim
a lamp unto his feet and a Light unto his Path.
series of links, unusual in themselves, formed a chain and led my heart
to Dublin and made contact with Mrs. Nancy Davis, niece and Neophite of
the late Captain P. G. Bowen, he whom I chose to call 'My Guru.'
E. A. Ansell, an advanced student of Captain Bowen, had the first issue
of this instruction produced in book form some fifty years ago, and Mrs.
Davis has graciously presented to me her copy of the T.T.O.P., its ageing
cover, reinforced with fabric, bears testimony to its having been a treasured
mystics, theosophists and students of True Occultism do need occasionally
to be re-orientated, lest, like one lost in the desert, they move in circles
and lose all sense of direction.
is the compass to a mariner on the vast oceans so is this little work
to the Pilgrim on the Path. D.
matter contained in this little book was originally given in the form
of a lecture to the Dublin Lodge of the Adyar Theosophical Society. Later,
at the request of the editor it was recast and published in its present
form in the magazine THEOSOPHY IN IRELAND. The Author, Capt. P.
G. Bowen, who was then an independent student of the Ancient Wisdom, has
since become president of THE HERMETIC SOCIETY, Dublin, having been appointed
to that office by the founder of the Society, the late Dr. George Russell
("A.E."). Capt. Bowen has given his assent to the publication
of his article in book form.
THE TRUE OCCULT PATH the writer of this Foreword has gleaned many grains
of spiritual help, and sends the booklet forth into the world, trusting
and believing that others will gain as much, or more from its study. Its
true value may not discover itself to the superficial reader; but the
real seeker, who knows that nothing of worth is gained without effort
will not begrudge it the concentrated study it needs and merits. To such
a seeker, the writer is assured, will accrue an abundant harvest.
booklet goes forth in a spirit of true fraternity, and is the mite which
the writer of these words contributes towards the sustenance of those
who seek to tread the way of the spirit.
= * =
TRUE OCCULT PATH.
OUT THE WISDOM
WHICH ABIDES IN SECRET, AND ALL ELSE
SHALL BE YOURS, WHEN YOU HAVE FOUND IT.
or True Occultism, is the pursuit of True WISDOM. True Wisdom is Divine
Wisdom, because nothing that is not Divine can be wholly true.
give many different meanings to the word THEOSOPHY, to suit their own
particular purposes; but the meaning which I give to it is its only true
is a much less definite term and therefore may with more justice be used
in a promiscuous way to indicate the pursuit of secret knowledge of any
kind. But TRUE, or Divine Occultism means but one thing and that is THE
PURSUIT OF DIVINE WISDOM BY SECRET PATHS.
forms of Occultism may lead to knowledge and power of one kind or another
but knowledge and power are not WISDOM.
WISDOM is a state of poise and balance. Only from an immovably poised and balanced
viewpoint can true wisdom be exercised. Its exercise implies a condition
in the individual of complete non-attachment to anything whatsoever. If
attachment to, or attraction towards anything exists, then the man will
favour that thing; and will therefore exhibit repulsion from, and separation
from other things; he will fail to hold that even balance between all
things, without which wisdom cannot be exercised. True Wisdom means a
condition of absolute non-attachment to EVERYTHING in Life, and this means
equally absolute ATTACHMENT to Life as an indivisible whole.
pursuit of, or practice of any other secret art or science precludes the
exercise of wisdom, because it entails attachment to one particular aspect
of life, and therefore separation from others.
would-be Neophyte must have understanding of what I have said before he
becomes ready to move a step on the Path of True Occultism.
every man who sets himself to seek for Truth two Paths will appear. The
first lies outside himself, stretching towards the centre of the boundless
universe, on the edge of which he appears to stand, an insignificant atom.
The second, beginning where the first begins, runs inward towards the
unknown centre of the man's own being.
man who founds all his judgments on appearances invariably turns towards
the first. He sees that he is helpless and ignorant, and
thinks therefore that whatever truth there may be must be found outside
himself. He begins accordingly by worshipping and adoring whatever being
or beings he may find who appear to possess wisdom, thus hoping to gain
their favour, and to share in that which they possess. His belief sets
him running, now to this person, now to that, who may claim to be nearest
the source of truth, begging a few crumbs from the other's store. But
he gains nothing by his efforts, as any student of Life can see for himself.
Outer Path is the Path humanity in general has followed throughout the
ages. That it does not lead to the Divine can be clearly seen by comparing
the state of a Stone-age savage, like the Bushman, with that of civilized
man. In material and intellectual achievements there is an immense gulf
between them; but Spiritually, if there is any gulf at all it is not wide.
Remove the laws and customs civilized man has established to further his
material interests, and will he show himself to be more imbued with the
spirit of Universal Brotherhood than the savage? Let common History, which
is the History of War, Conquest and exploitation of the weak, give answer.
Outer Path does not lead to the Divine. It does not indeed lead anywhere.
We can see on all hands that those who have followed it long enough, find
it fading out and leaving them in a void of unbelief in anything Divine.
Yet those who have reached that state of unbelief are nearer the Divine
than those still travelling outward in pursuit of it. This I will make
more clear before I conclude.
now and look at the Inner Way the Way that leads from man's outer,
worldly self, back into the deeps of his being. Man may look at it long
without seeing more promise of Truth along it than along the Outer Path.
But if he looks long enough, and intelligently enough, he will sooner
or later begin to perceive that this is the Path which all who show any
approach to Wisdom are travelling upon. When this perception arises in
him he is at the parting of the Ways.
however, ever get beyond the crossways in the life in which they get their
first glimpse of a distant ray of the Truth. They have grown so accustomed
to dependence upon external aid, that they fear to venture a step upon
the Inner Path; because it is a Way which the Pilgrim must walk alone.
Those who do venture a few hesitating steps along it almost always turn
back again, terrified at standing alone. They rush back to the Crossways
where many GUIDES stand fashioning crutches for the feeble and selling
maps and plans of The Way to the ignorant. But those Guides are not helpers,
but hinderers; their charts are false, for they themselves have never
trodden the Inner Way; their crutches are useless to the Pilgrim, because
there is no room on the Inner Path for anything. but his own feet.
yet the man may see the Truth, and usually does see it; but notwithstanding,
he will waste a lifetime at the Crossways trembling and hesitating, fearing
to venture inward. He may even close his ears to the low voice, and his
eyes to the faint distant light of Truth, and accepting the aid of one
of the Guides, wander blindly back into the profitless Outer Path.
there are others, besides those Guides, standing at the Crossways. They
do not fashion crutches, nor offer charts; but silently, and with infinite
patience, they POINT TOWARDS the Inner Way. Why do they persist when not
one in millions heeds or notices them? They know they have a royal reward
if but one in ten millions walks where they point.
often has it not been taught, and realised by many through independent
thought , that knowledge cannot be bestowed upon a man, but must arise
within himself before he can truly be said to possess it? Men talk of
Teachers, yet no Teacher ever bestows knowledge, in the sense of placing
something within a mind where nothing was before. Before one can say one
has learned anything, that thing must have existence in the mind.
long ago in a philosophical discussion with a young friend, I had occasion
to use a mathematical calculation, in the solution of which I used as
an axiom the well-known algebraical formula, that X plus Y, multiplied
by X minus Y equals X sq. minus Y sq.
the conclusion I said to my friend "You accepted as an axiom the
formula above mentioned. Are you satisfied of its truth?"
it is true," he replied.
how do you come to KNOW that it is true?" I persisted.
well of course I learned it at school."
mean that some teacher told you it was true, and you accepted his word
for it is that so?"
do you really KNOW that he informed you correctly? Would you, for instance,
stake our life on his word?"
friend hesitated. Doubt appeared on his face. Clearly he did not know
whether the equation was true or not. "That is strange," he
said. "I believe I don't really know whether the rule is correct
not find out the truth for yourself," I said. X and Y are unknown,
abstract quantities say those three match sticks for X and those
two for Y."
did as directed, and quickly proved the statement to be correct as anyone
not until he had demonstrated the rule thus for himself did my young friend KNOW it. Therefore, not until that moment had he really learned anything
about it from his teacher. Previously he had been simply accepting another's
assurance blindly, and imaging it to be knowledge. More than this, one
can see if one examines the matter closely that it was only AFTER true
knowledge had come into existence in his own mind that he could say he
really had learned from his teacher.
simple fact is, though for the many to appreciate it will take much thinking
on their part, that all real knowledge is preexistent within oneself;
and that that which appears to come from outside is but the inner knowledge
objectified. Before one truly knows anything, that thing has taken shape
this it will appear how useless it is to expect to receive help, or wisdom
from any person, or from anything whatsoever without oneself. The instant
that you KNOW that the Teacher or his words are TRUTH, he has ceased to
teach you. Before that he is not teaching you but giving you something
which you either accept blindly, and which therefore remains outside yourself;
or which you translate into an objective form commensurate with the little
knowledge already developed within yourself.
who understand this much must consequently understand also that all the
fog and confusion they perceive in the objective world is the product
of that department of their own nature in which their consciousness dwells.
World The Universe is each man's own self, objectified. From this
understanding again, one must see that the DIVINE which one pictures as
dwelling in the central depths of Space, does not dwell there, but in
the centre of one's own being.
Teacher can ENTER one's being and lead one back towards its centre. Each
man must tread that path alone. All that he has been relying upon outside
himself must be let go, because it is but holding him back from his inward
march; he cannot take it with him. Yet as he moves inward he will find
other teachers arising, some from whom he will know he has learned, others
whom he must not stay to heed lest they hold him back. The Teacher of
Teachers stands at the far end of the Path, not counselling, nor yet pointing,
but beckoning onward. But these last words are not yet to be understood.
once a man sees into, and through and through anything which is to him
objective that means when he truly KNOWS it that thing ceases
to matter to him. He has sucked it dry; and whatever of value it contained
has become part of himself; he lets the empty husk go without regret But
so long as an external object seems important to a man, so that he clings
to it, afraid to let it go, just so long is he ignorant of it, and held
at a standstill by it.
men cling to one thing, or to another, fondly imagining that such things
are helping them, whereas all they do is to give him the sense of security
which comes from being firmly anchored.
world of men are anchored to the world, because to them it seems a necessary
thing; yet all that is necessary in it is the truth which its appearances
conceal. When men perceive this it has no longer a use for them, and they
let it all go. Then they know that all that is real in it is part of themselves;
the rest is a husk an appearance not real.
begins his true progress by realising that the more important does any
external object appear to him, the more certain it is that he knows it
I say is not any new thing, but old, so old that there never was a time
when it was not. From age to age it has been repeated, and will be repeated
from age to age. Yet few who have heard it strive to act upon it, deeming
it too difficult a thing. While of the few who try to follow it, for the
most part they do so without knowledge; it is a thing which has not become
a part of themselves. Thus are found those who accept the word without
understanding it, fleeing from the world and its forms into deserts and
cloisters and thinking that thus they are practising the teaching. Not
thus is it practised.
flee into desert or cell is not to escape the ignorance and confusion
of one's own nature, of which the busy world is the objective image. Flinging
away any outward form whatsoever helps in no way, but rather hinders.
One may close his consciousness to its existence, as the ostrich hides
his head in the sand; but doing that only anchors the man more firmly
the world of confusion holds him, and because he does not perceive
it he has ceased to strive to know it, and is a sleeping instead of a
waking, struggling captive to it.
the Man free himself from that state of ignorance which exists in himself
which bids him regard as important any form whatsoever of this objective
world home, country, society, church. Let him see the truth within
those things, of which they are each and ail narrowed and distorted forms.
If knowledge of that truth springs awake within him, the forms become
objects of indifference to him.
indifferent to them, he will not seek to run away from them, or to concern
himself with destroying them. Let him think that if he finds it necessary
to flee from a form of this world, or to try to destroy it, that form
must be an important thing for him. I have said, and showed that that
which seems important to the man is so only because he does not know it.
has been said to me by one of our younger brothers that much thinking
of this kind will lead many into a state of blank negation, or agnosticism.
This is true. It is a necessary state, and one all pass, or will pass
before true advance begins. In this state the man recognises his own ignorance,
and such recognition is the necessary prelude to true learning. All anchors
to outer authority must be slipped before one begins to move inward. Therefore
a time must come it may last a moment, or many lifetimes
when the man stands alone in a void when nothing external holds
or supports him, and nothing he can grasp has as yet arisen within himself.
It is the fear, conscious or unconscious, of this lost and lonely state
which keeps so many clinging to external support. Time after time the
man may slip into, or be driven into this state, only to rush back again
and grasp a new anchorage. But he gains nothing till at last he takes
his courage in both hands and steps alone into the void.
that courage comes, or until he seizes it with determined will, the man
is not a Theosophist. Membership of any Church, or of any society, or
of any circle calling itself Theosophical does not make a man a Theosophist.
It may indeed be preventing him from becoming one; though as I have shown
it need not do so. But when any human institution proclaims itself to
be the instrument of Truth, or the form in which Truth manifests, is it
not likely that a man may think that by becoming a member of it, he himself
must become a recipient of the Truth? But of course he becomes nothing
of the kind.
Truth may be held by his fellows is theirs, not his, because it remains
external to him. He does not become a co-sharer in the knowledge which
his brethren may possess by his association with them, any more than did
my young friend by his membership of the college become a sharer of his
Teacher's knowledge until it arose within him through his own effort and
experience. Therefore enrolling himself as member of a Church, or of any
other association cannot in any way help a man or relieve him from the
necessity for individual effort. In most cases it means nothing for him
but a shifting of anchors from a spot which has grown insecure to a firmer
do not think because of this that a man should cut himself off from his
Church or from any association of which he is a member. If he has not
emptied the form of its Truth and made it his own, then the form remains
a thing of importance to him; and whether he is, or is not a member of
it in name he remains dependent upon it. Likewise, if he has drained the
form of its truth, and sees it but as an empty husk, where is the meaning
in cutting himself off from a thing which has no significance for him?
Let no man attach himself to any form with the idea of finding help from
it; and let no man sever himself from any form, thinking thus to secure
liberation from it. If he is helped the help has been found within himself,
and the form only objectifies it. If he is held the form is also only
the objective image of a binding aspect of his own nature from which fleeing
will not release him.
the man stands alone, or is one of a select body of millions of members,
his position is the same. If he is a medium of Truth, Truth will shine
through him. If he is not, no association with others will make it do
so. Suppose that his Church or Order be represented by a vast window made
up of a million panes, some of which are clear and let the pure light
shine through them; while others are dull, and of varying degrees of opacity
down to blank blackness. Now if any one of those panes be removed from
the window, and fitted into an isolated aperture by itself, is its nature
altered? The sunlight still penetrates it exactly in accordance with its
quality whether it stands alone, or in association with others.
the Wise Ones, or The Teachers be clear panes in some vast mosaic in which
a man is a dull, clouded pane, does the Truth which shines through them
make any difference to his nature? It does not. He can reflect some of
the light which shines through' others that means he can repeat
it. But repeating it alters in no way his own nature.
in mind all I have said and illustrated concerning true KNOWING, what
is it that brings Truth to the man? It is that thing within the man The KNOWER, The One TRUE SELF which alone gives Truth. This KNOWER which
knows Truth and which gives Truth, is Truth itself. To the extent to which
this True Self is awake in a man to that extent, and that only
will he recognise the existence of external Truth. He will not know a
true disciple of Wisdom until he becomes one himself. The Wise Ones and
the Teachers will pass him by in the street and he will not know them
until he himself is growing to be one of their company.
or most of you who listen to these words have thought and meditated upon
many aspects of the Philosophy which we call Theosophy; but few seem to
hold in mind the central doctrine, without which all else must fall to
the ground. That central doctrine is THE FUNDAMENTAL UNITY OF ALL EXISTENCE.
Existence is a UNITY One and INDIVISABLE. If a man then be conscious
of existence he must himself be that Unity and nothing less. If he were
less he could not be conscious, because the whole is indivisible and has
again, we hear and repeat constantly that Man is the Microcosm. What is
a man's conception when he repeats this doctrine? Will it not be something
like this: he will conceive the Kosmos as a vast sphere of infinite aspects.
Man, the Microcosm, he will conceive as a tiny sphere, with attributes
which are miniature copies of the great sphere. If he considers the relationship
between the great and the little, will he not inevitably conceive himself
as the tiny sphere occupying an infinitesimal point within the great sphere,
the Macrocosm? He will therefore be picturing two separable things, one
infinitely greater and superior to the other.
conception does not represent the Truth. The Truth lies in the axiom of
Hermes, Thrice Great Master:
is the Inner, so is the Outer; as is the Great, so is the Small, as above,
so below; there is but ONE LIFE AND LAW: nothing is Inner, nothing is
Outer; nothing is Great, nothing is Small, nothing is High, nothing is
Low, in the DIVINE economy."
the Microcosm is not a sphere infinitely small, and the Kosmos is not
a sphere infinitely great. There are not two spheres, but only one thing,
as it might be when viewed through the different ends of a gigantic telescope.
Through one end man sees existence infinitely magnified. Through the other
he sees it infinitely reduced. Yet he is looking at one thing, not two.
He will see its reality only when he puts away his glass. The ONE EXISTENCE appears as two, one great and one small only as viewed through the different
ends of the glass of a limited consciousness.
Wise Ones and The Teachers exist and are to be found within the man himself.
Until he finds them there he will never know them in any objective form.
To the extent that the man KNOWS with certainty within himself that another's
words and ways are truth, to that extent, and to that only the other becomes
Master or Teacher for him. But having recognised an aspect of Truth in
any man, let no man on that account accept all else he may say and do,
blindly, and without knowledge. If he does that he will have anchored
himself again, and will have become the mere adorer of a form which once
objectified for him a ray of Truth.
the religions of the world which have arisen around the name of a teacher
owe their existence to this error. A few disciples, or others, recognised
in some words or actions of the Teacher the objective form of a ray of
Truth just risen in their own being. From that flash of knowing they leapt
to blind acceptance of the Teacher as the embodiment of absolute truth,
and forgot that as far as they had any true knowledge he was but the embodiment
of a single spark of it.
which is so constantly enjoined is a word the true meaning of which has
become almost wholly forgotten. The world accepts it as meaning blind,
or unreasoning belief. Its real meaning is very different. It is true
that it implies belief that is not founded on reason, but far from being
blind this belief depends upon that certain knowledge which comes to the
man when The KNOWER, the Truth, Inner Self, wakes within him. The injunction
so often laid upon man, to have Faith, is not a command to bind himself
in ignorant devotion to another, or to his words. It is on the contrary
a command to release himself from bondage the bondage of that comparatively
low, and very limited aspect of the Mind which is called Reason. The KNOWER dwells beyond reason, and beyond all that common man knows as Thought.
the man has this real Faith in the Teacher, it means that the KNOWER,
the One Teacher is awake within him; the form in which the Teacher appears
is simply the objective image of that which has stirred to wakefulness
within the man.
do the Wise Ones remain hidden, when they may come out and light the world
with their wisdom?" is the constant cry spoken or unspoken, of questing
man. How does common man know that they do not come out? How does he know
that these very words which I speak are not spoken by a Wise One? If I
assured you that it is indeed so some among you might believe, and some
would not. But none would know whether
spoke truth or not, because in none is the KNOWER yet awake. If I caused
those ornaments to fly from the walls all would believe in my superhuman
power, and perhaps accept me as a Wise One; yet in doing so they would
be but binding themselves to their senses, and be no nearer to the freedom
of true knowledge than they were before.
Wise Ones, and the Teachers, and their lesser selves, The Messengers,
have appeared, and do still appear in the world of men. Yet all they can
do is to point the way to man, and tell him to travel it for himself.
Their message is ever the same the simple message I am giving to
you. All the books on the Philosophy of Life which have been written in
their names; all the systems and sciences of Living which they taught,
what were they? Nothing but simple sign-posts pointing to the Way which
man must walk by his own strength. The Philosophies indicate the WHY of
man's efforts; the systems and sciences indicate the HOW, and that is
the end. Man, each one of you who hear me must do the work, for which
the Philosophy supplies the reason, and the systems and sciences show
the means; no one can do it for him. "I am the Way, the Truth and
the Life," said the Teacher; but he spoke of that eternal "I"
which is the centre of all being, and of every being. Let man identify
himself with that "I" by retreating towards it along the Inner
Path, and at last he will become that KNOWER which is TRUTH.
works by the author:
A course in Practical Occultism set down in seven lessons.
SAYINGS OF THE ANCIENT ONE. Devotional.
WAY OF A PILGRIM.
Compiled by E. A. A. from Bowen's letters
to students across the world.