THERE are many sincere students of mysticism and occultism today who suffer an necessary frustration and sense of failure through a misunderstanding of what physic development is.  Having been privileged to watch and encourage the progress of a number of people, I have been able to observe at first hand their psychic unfoldment.  In doing this, what strikes me so forcibly is that they make considerable progress without realising that they have done so.  The result of this non-realisation is they feel their efforts have been made in vain.  Subsequently their desire for further efforts along the same lines is greatly reduced. Therefore further insight into this problem would help many.


If we consider the word psychic, it will take us a long way towards an understanding.  As a generalisation, we can say that the word refers to that in us which is non-material, beyond the physical; that which relates to a persons mind and emotions, or which forms a link between his spiritual or Cosmic  nature  and  his physical  being  and  consciousness. In particular the word psyche refers to ones personal experiences and memories as they are felt mentally and emotionally. But it also includes the unconscious mental or spiritual processes influencing conscious life.

It will be obvious to any thinking person, from even the short definition above, that if indeed we are dealing with a part of our being which is, in part at least, beyond the ken of our normal consciousness, then it must follow that the effects of our efforts to unfold this part of ourselves will remain, perhaps in large part, unknown to us at present.  In other words, we are, through our exercises and   disciplines,   stimulating something within us which at the moment is invisible to us, we therefore cannot expect to know all that transpires through our efforts.

As Dr. H. Spencer Lewis has written, we are not conscious of food digestion, blood circulation or more of the inner physical activities, we should not, then, expect to be infinitely aware of all that goes on in the part of us far more subtle than the physical. So the student should not feel that what he or she is doing is having no affect. Rather, they should realise that the many changes within that are being brought about remain unknown at present because of their subtlety. This is rather  negative  information though, and we will pass on to a more positive aspect.

If most of the responses to our efforts take place beyond the level of our normal awareness, if it is true that the higher nature influences the lower, then progress can be judged by what takes place in our personality after the original efforts.

The affects of occult development, are very subtle, even when they are effecting the conscious level of our mind and personality. The student who is continually looking outward for these changes will only find discouragement.  We should not expect the sensational worldly effects so often depicted in fiction. No tall Eastern stranger is going to suddenly introduce himself and initiate us into weird mystic rites. Neither will we find the way suddenly open for us to live without our daily toil and other human contacts.

Even the fiction writers realise that the events and characters they portray are usually just

different aspects, or levels, of the student’s own mind.  What will happen then? Usually that which the student will overlook as being of no importance. The whole strange drama takes place within us, in the arena of our own mind, and only by self analysis can we see the story of our own unfoldment take place.

Would it shatter some dreams if I said that under normal circumstances no sensational visions,  experiences  or  events occur. Sometimes at the outset these do appear, but as the progress really gets under way, these  usually  disappear, at least for a while. In other cases they never happen at all. One day a student came to me after a period of meditation and said:

“Do you know, I suddenly realised that my body is not me. All of a sudden it came to me that it just doesn’t matter if my body is destroyed, I will still exist.”

Here is real psychic development, the unfoldment of understanding,  the  expansion  of

awareness.  He had not read about somebody else’s thoughts upon such things, he had personally experienced such a realisation within himself. From that point on, there was no doubt in his mind, he KNEW what he was.  When we hear or read another’s  opinion, we  may believe  it to be true, but we do not necessarily know it from personal experience.

Psychic  development  is  a growth in KNOWING.  Slowly, the things we may have read become real through intimately contacting them.

Even reading a book can be a psychic experience. The ideas within it may pull back a veil

within us, and with an emotional thrill we have a new realisation, a new insight into ourselves and the world. When our conscious mind has this new understanding of life, surely it is psychic growth? Surely we now see (understand) things we never saw before, things that were not obvious by merely looking at them with our physical eyes.  If we see in life something we could not see before, and that is not physically obvious to others, then we are definitely using a type of psychic sight or sense. If we can now see more beauty in nature, music or art, then we have developed psychically.

Alchemy of The Self  

ACTUALLY, psychic development is not a very good term to use. ‘Alchemy of the Self’ is probably more accurate.  Just as the alchemist purifies metals by bringing the dross, or impurities, to the surface, to be removed, so do we in the process of inner unfoldment. This is something that very few students realise, and thus they are not armed to face the disquieting results of their own labours.  The term,  Alchemy  of  Self, really explains many of the trying circumstances in the life of the mystical aspirant.

As we have said, and this is very important, it is in the arena of the conscious mind, that strange conflicts and dramas are being enacted. Here also does the alchemical process work out.

The methods of development used in the west all revolve around concentration, meditation, visualisation and sometimes in harnessing the imagination. These methods, when used correctly, are the cause of the alchemical  process. What happens is that slowly, the part of our mind or being that is usually hidden, begins to rise to our view.

The student should earnestly thank God that this doesn’t happen quickly, for he/she could not face it.  Not only does unusual understanding, new insight and greater personal abilities come with this unveiling, but also ones inner fears, conflicts,  doubts, weaknesses, temptations and lusts rise like ancient spectres to haunt us.

The story of Pandora’s box is a very apt example of this. Through our efforts to unlock our psychic abilities, we open our unconscious doorway, behind which we have repressed all the little demons that have tried to hurt us in life. Psychic growth is not an easy task, but the hardest  anyone can achieve, for one really comes to know oneself as never before. Even the Master Jesus, after Baptism, was sorely tempted by the  Devil, and  eventually suffered trial and Crucifixion. We as lower degree Initiates into Life’s Mysteries, can only expect to follow in the Master’s footsteps, for they were indeed trodden to show us the way.

The two aspects of ourselves we call in to view by our discipline, the negative and positive, have a definite name. Occult traditions have grouped them together and called it “The Dweller on The Threshold”.   Tradition  and modern experience, say that this astral being, which is the sum total of all our past karma, has to be faced and passed before we can know the deepest truth. Because of this it is sometimes called “The Guardian of The Threshold”, for it holds back those who cannot face it and understand it.

The actual outworkings of facing the Guardian manifest in certain seemingly ordinary ways. As mentioned in the very beginning, unless the student is under guidance, he or she will probably not associate the events that come to pass with their development. The events  that the Guardian evokes are often taken as signs of failure instead of progress.  I will give you some examples of the negative aspect first to illustrate this point.

Meeting the Guardian of the Threshold

THE DWELLER ON THE THRESHOLD – This is a concept which was originally defined in the Esoteric study of Freemasonry. It is that which  has to be faced before any candidate can become an “Entered Apprentice” on the path of Initiation. The student can only manage this task to see the TRUTH of all his personalities under the supervision of a master Mason.

A young student, after allowing himself greater freedom to express his inner life, found that a an old and frightening habit of his adolescent years – nocturnal masturbation while asleep – reappeared.  He had, in his youth, overcome the habit, and thought it out of his life forever.  However, he had conquered it because he was frightened of it, and not because he outgrew it.  Being thus repressed, now the doors to his inner life were opened, it reappeared.

Because it occurred out of our conscious control, while asleep, he felt fear, as if his own conscious decision was disregarded and overwhelmed by some other force.  The student in fact was frightened, because he didn’t know how to control it.  The fear of it prompted him to adopt certain clothing  which  prevented  it. After further thought however, he realised that he had not conquered it, only prevented it happening by wearing tight clothing at night, which forced him to awake as the attempted masturbation was under way.  From within he was urged to discard the special clothing and face the urge unafraid.

His teacher had assured him that the unconscious follows a fear as if it were a command. So he must face it and learn not to fear it. After this realisation of what was going on, he discarded his preventative measures, but he was now inwardly confident of success.  He faced this aspect of his Dweller, and although at first it frightened him, he replaced fear with confidence. Needless to say, he was successful. It must be said though, that he was by nature a positive confident person, and so the ordeal was easier.

For those with a nervous disposition, or who lack self confidence, the issue is usually far more difficult and prolonged. To give an example of the latter type, I will mention the struggle of a young woman student that is still in progress.

Before she entered on the Path she had lived for long spells completely alone in a detached house on the edge of a wood, and never felt nervous. Later, she started her occult studies, married, had two children, and moved to a far more densely populated area. Shortly after taking up the studies, a nervous fear of being indoors, and especially of being in the room used for occult studies, developed.  So intense was the discomfort that often she had to leave the house.  Some occult students might think that it was the aura of the particular house. But this was thought of, and it was realised that the same things had happened in another house she had lived in a few months previous. (Not the one by the wood.)

I know it is easy for me to write, but here is a student who is facing an obscure Karmic affect which she had called upon herself by her efforts on the Path. At the moment she refuses to fully face it, but is doing it in degrees. Those who try to pass the Guardian, and thrust themselves into the psychic world by forced methods are greatly endangering themselves.

Learning to control, or face, the Dweller, gives us strength to face the dark forces. If we enter the arena without this  strength, as some do, it may lead to great confusion of mind and personal  unbalance.   We must all face what we are. We must wrestle with ourselves until we are changed, and the Dark Dweller becomes a  Being of Light. Then we have free access to the halls of Light also.

So much for the negative aspect of development. What about the positive unfoldment and inspirational abilities?  The appearance of this other side of personal alchemy is often to be noted within a few weeks of seeking development.  That is, noted by the trained occultist – the student may overlook these signs.

Steps to the Mountain Peak

THE  process  of  occult training, as we have already said, opens the doors of the mind to the content of our inner self, and our inner world.  One might say that it helps us to become conscious of the many impressions playing upon our sympathetic nervous system from the  psychic  and  Cosmic Planes.

Becoming aware of the ideas, impressions, feelings and impact of our psychic nature, opens up huge new avenues of experience. In a way it is like walking along a dark narrow alley, and then suddenly stepping out on to a sunlit beach.  Our horizon has suddenly expanded, and our world enlarged.

The new horizons of thought, feeling and experience that open to us as we practice with the occult principles, bring us in touch with much of practical use. Those  creative  artists, musicians, business men, designers and writers who lead the way in their field, are unconsciously tapping finer psychic nature for information.  As the student advances, he or she also find themselves becoming more creative in their particular field.

Creativity is not limited to the arts or sciences.  One can be a creative housewife, mother, husband, employee or employer. What it means is that we receive ideas and impressions that others do not, and that through the occult training of mind, personality and will, we are able to express, these ideas. This we do by making new things, events, situations in our daily life.  I have only generalised here, because the thoughtful student will be able to apply these principles to their personal life themselves

It might be interesting to note some of the sources of these new abilities and ideas. The person who reads this will not need a detailed explanation  of such sources as telepathy, attunement with the unconscious memory, or psychic contact with other persons in or out of the body. Regarding the latter, most of such contacts, in the beginning, arc made without the student being aware of it. This usually happens while asleep or in meditation. This can even apply to contact with a Master.

Although until one has definite proof of such contact it must be assumed that it has not been made.   This  is simply to avoid becoming too imaginative, and assuming things we do not KNOW!  The evidence of such contacts is quite definite in some cases. The information received, seemingly coming from our own mind, is later found to have never been known by the receiver. Thus we obtain information that we could never have received through mere reasoning.  Although again we must realise that our own inner Master could have been the source.

Sometimes the information is personal instruction to aid our own development.  Other times it pertains to our occult work, or to people we have contacted.

Meeting his Karma

THROUGH sincere attempts to advance on the path, the student evokes the Dweller. He or she is also unconsciously, or consciously, calling up the negative aspect of their karma from previous incarnations.  To achieve our goal of adeptship we must first work out our bad karma.  When this dark cloud, which stands between us and the Sun, is dispersed, we can bathe in the Divine Light.  In facing our Dweller, we draw the poison element out of our past lives.

As this is gradually achieved, we are left with the positive experience of past incarnations. We have learnt to resist the evil, and now we have achieved the good. This will manifest in our life as the seeping through of past powers, abilities and knowledge.  We often do not know just how much this is true until we come to some emergency or crisis in life. Then, to our great surprise, knowledge, power and ability flow through us to a degree  we  never  realised  we possessed.

It has often been noted that with those who take to the Path with sincere effort, at the outset they seem  to lose whatever psychic abilities they had in regard to clairvoyance, clairaudience etc.  I know this is not true of every student, but it certainly seems to be true of those  in  whom  the  psychic abilities manifest spasmodically and out of conscious control.

This loss of ability is a good sign, for it shows that the inner life is becoming marshalled and directed. No longer do psychic experiences occur spontaneously without conscious control. This period is certainly a frustrating one, for it seems as if even the little we had has been lost. What is happening is that we are learning to tap the psychic awareness at will, and when desired.  This is a great step forward on the previous uncontrolled phenomena, and it takes time.

During this period of blankness it is certainly an effort to be patient, but we must. Any attempt at forcing the development at this stage will only throw us back to the previous level. We may indeed have psychic  experiences through these forced methods, but without being able to consciously direct the process, we still have not grown spiritually?  I know several people who have spasmodic visions and experiences of a very vivid type. These persons feel very important because of these events, but when they attempt to understand what the vision’s message or meaning is, they are at a loss to know.

The developed occultist is certainly not one who receives information that he cannot understand or use. His contact with the psychic world is such that he learns to receive definite answers to questions, and what he sees has meaning to him. Therefore be patient, for it is worth the frustration to get to the next stage.

The advancement to the next level of unfoldment is a gentle process, it may take many years, and at first we will not realise that we have begun to reach it. It is characterised by the growth of the faculty of intuition. Through the growth of this ability we begin to receive from within definite information concerning questions that are troubling us.  For instance, a student is thinking about the progress of a fellow student on the Path, and is wondering how best they can be helped.  As he thinks,  suddenly  a  flash  of understanding comes to him, and he sees exactly what the student has to do, why he had to do it, and what the outcome will be. He will also probably find that on talking to the person concerned, he will say that he had in fact felt an urge to do the very same thing for some time, but wondered if it were worthwhile, but this confirmation has really encouraged him to try.

On the other hand, a businessman may be considering a difficult decision.  He can either follow his usual course, or take a new departure that might not work. Suddenly he receives the impression, very strongly, that if he takes a difficult course, unknown persons will come to his aid as he proceeds, and although the beginning of the prospect will be tortuous, it will quickly become a success. His reasoning warns him against chancing it, but he takes the plunge, and finds that events unfold exactly as foreseen.

Darkness into Light

AS we  proceed,  the faculty of intuition becomes a more and more regular ability.  From this point onwards, the student’s contacts  with  the  inner world are definitely enlarging. Eventually, this ability will become such that he will be able to consult it at any time, and get an immediate response.

This, then, is the beginning of real development, and slowly the other psychic faculties will unfold to be used at will. It  must  be  remembered though, that these stages of progress tie in with the facing of the Dweller, and the greater unfoldment of psychic faculties will not occur until we have dispersed this karmic cloud. Some students have so much negative karma that this is indeed a lengthy process, to be counted not in years but incarnations. But this will not bar them entirely from psychic contact, just from the complete unfoldment of Adeptship.  However, many are being born and reaching maturity now who have worked off a great deal of their Karma already. These young students may well be those who are now ready to take the higher stages of the Path.

How much Karma we have worked off in our past incarnations we can only tell from the response we receive from the efforts we give to our studies and spiritual exercises.  If the response is a very rapid unfoldment of understanding and ability, then the spiritual picture is certainly a bright one if we persevere with our efforts. The student  who  finds  the  way slower and harder, need not despair, for each step on the Path that is carved out is theirs forever unless they choose to retrace their steps.

These steps that we carve on the Path to the Mountain Peak, are changes in ourselves, for the Path is within us.  Each step takes us nearer the goal, which is Cosmic Consciousness and Mastership. Our efforts on the Path develop intuition. Intuition becomes psychic awareness,  and psychic awareness enlarges into Cosmic Consciousness.

This, then, is the Heaven we are told is within, and enthroned in this Heaven within is the Timeless Centre of our being.  From the Holy Throne radiates the Inner Light, which is the Light that Lighteth every man that cometh into the world. And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.

Everyone is seeking this Light and the happiness it brings, but few realise it.  Some seek it in sensual gratification, but find it not there.  Others seek it in worldly power, but only discover the perpetual turmoil of sexual impulse, aggression and competitiveness.

The happiness of the Light can be ours, and will be ours, for it is our home from whence we came, and to where we shall return. In the darkness we experience many things, and we learn to long for the Light, which, if we seek it we shall find.

Meanwhile, let us remember that we have been sent into the darkness to learn its lessons. Let us study it, and face it, for it is one with the Dweller.  When we understand it, and overcome it, then will its darkness become Light, and we will be HOME.

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved