One of the questions most frequently asked the teachers of the Wisdom of the East is this: “What do you teach regarding ‘the other side’ of the river of death?” To the trained and developed occultist, this question never seems to lose its strangeness.
To such, it would seem as the question: “What do you teach regarding the ‘other side’ of the street?” would seem to the ordinary man on the street. The latter would naturally feel surprised that there should be any question of “teaching” on the subject, for the inquirer would have but to use his own eyes to obtain the answer to his query.
The Oriental teacher never fails to wonder at the many evidences of the result of mere theory and dogmatic teaching on the part of the majority of the teachers and preachers of the Western world.
These so-called teachers are like the “blind leading the blind,” for they have no means of verifying their statements, and merely pass on what they have blindly received from others, who, in turn, have received their own instruction in the same way.
In the Orient, on the contrary, one meets with so many persons of developed higher psychic and spiritual sense, to whom the phenomena of
“the other side” is as familiar as is the phenomena of “this side,” that the “other side” seems as real and actual as does the ordinary environment of earth-life.
Among developed Orientals “the other side” is no uncharted sea, but has its currents, depths, islands, and general facts as clearly stated and understood as is the Atlantic Ocean by the Western mariner. Moreover, every educated Oriental is taught from youth that the phenomena of
"the other side" need not be taken on faith, but may be actually known to those who will expend the time and study required for developing the higher senses which are possessed by all of the race.
But, from the same reasons, the developed Oriental occultist finds himself confronted with a most perplexing, not to say discouraging task when he attempts to convey his knowledge on this subject to Western students.
The Western mind instinctively refuses to accept truth in the manner of the mind of the Oriental student. Not having realized by actual experience certain fundamental psychic and spiritual facts, which serve as a basis for the detailed teaching, the Western mind naturally demands “actual proof” of these basic facts before being willing to proceed further.
Inasmuch as these facts must first be experienced to be known, no amount of argument ever serves to bring that conviction of truth which should serve as the fundamental basis for the detailed teaching. Consequently by the Western student, the general basic statements of the teacher are accepted either purely on faith, or else regarded as mere guesses or speculation on the part of the teacher.
And, as there are thousands of such guesses and speculative theories advanced in the Western world, the student may well be excused from refusing to accept any of them as truth, for, as he often argues, “one guess is as good as another.”
In the presentation of the facts of “the other side” to which the present volume is devoted, the student must realize from the beginning that there can be no actual physical proof afforded him, in the absence of a highly developed state of his higher psychic and spiritual senses. In his case, the proof demanded is akin to that asked of the blind man, who demands proof of scarlet or any other color of the article; or like that asked by the deaf man, who demands proof of the existence of harmony in music.
From the very nature of things, the proof cannot be afforded in such case. Imagine the attempt to explain the sensation of the taste of sugar to one who had never experienced the taste of anything sweet. How and where could one begin? How, and where could one proceed?
So let us understand each other thoroughly, teacher, and students. Let us understand that the teachings of this book are not offered as proof of the phenomena of "the other side," but merely in the spirit of the traveller returned from some new and strange country, and who tells the tales of his journeying and the sights seen therein.
As we said to the students of our first lessons, given to the Western world nine years ago: “We do not mean that the Eastern teachers insist upon the pupil blindly accepting every truth that is presented to him.
On the contrary, they instruct the pupil to accept as truth only that which he can prove for himself, as no truth is truth to one until he can prove it by his own experiments.
But the student is taught that before many truths may be so proven, he must develop and unfold.
The teacher asks only that the student have confidence in him as a pointer-out of the way, and he says, in effect, to the student: “This is the way; enter upon it, and on the path you will find the things of which I have taught you; handle them, weigh them, measure them, taste them, and know for yourself.
When you reach any point of the path you will know as much of it as did I or any other soul at that particular stage of the journey; but until you reach a particular point, you must either accept the statements of those who have gone before or reject the the whole subject at that particular point.
Accept nothing as final until you have proven it; but if you are wise, you will profit by the advice and experience of those who have gone before. Every man must learn by experience, but men may serve others as pointers of the way. At each stage of the journey it will be found that those who have progressed a little farther on the way, have left signs and marks and guide-posts for those who follow.
The wise man will take advantage of these signs. I do not ask for blind faith, but only for confidence until you are able to demonstrate for yourselves the truths I am passing on to you, as they were passed on to me by those who went before”
The skeptical Western student may object that we offer no “scientific proofs” of the phenomena of “the other side.” If by “scientific” he means the proofs of physical science, we agree with him.
But to the advanced occultist, the term “scientific” has a much broader and wider meaning. The person who expects to weigh, measure and register spiritual things by physical standards has nothing but disappointment and failure before him, for he will never receive the proof he seeks.
Physical apparatus is intended for physical objects only—the world of spirt has its own set of apparatus, which alone is capable of registering its phenomena. Therefore we wish the matter clearly understood by the reader who is undertaking the study of this book. No physical proofs are offered.
There are none such, strictly speaking, to be found anywhere. Moreover, there is no attempt at argument—for there is no basis for argument between the seers of “the other side” and those whose vision is limited to the earth-plane.
But this does not mean that we are offering you a mass of irrational statements, and insisting that you take them on faith. Far from this is our intent.
For while the reason alone can never hope to pierce the veil separating the two sides of Life-Death, nevertheless the reason, if allowed to follow its own reports divested of prejudice and blind adherence to teaching, will perceive a certain reasonableness in a true statement of the facts of the unknown—it will seem that the teachings square with other accepted facts, and that they explain in a reasonable way phenomena otherwise unexplainable.
In short, the reason will seem that the teachings of truth reconcile apparently opposing sets of facts, and join together many obscure bits of truth which one finds accepted by his reason, but which, heretofore,
he has not been able to place together and join in a connected structure of mental concept.
The student is urged to suspend judgment until he has read carefully, and then as carefully considered, what we have to say. Then let him re-read, and re-consider the book as a whole.
Then let him ask himself the honest question: “Does not this seem reasonable and probable.” If he can do no more than to accept it all as a “working hypotheses,” by all means let him rest satisfied with that position—although to us the term may evoke a smile when we realize that the teaching is built upon the experience and testimony of the wise of the ages.
But, if the teaching is carefully read and considered, it will prove to be regarded as more and more reasonable as the years pass by with the individual.
Fact after fact will be seen to fit into the general teaching, and, as older conceptions are discarded from time to time, these teachings will be found to take their place.
It is not easy to escape from a truth, once it has been presented to you. It has a way of itching your mental ear, once it has lodged there.
For behind that ear is a part of you, hidden though it may be, by many sheaths, which knows —which Knows! Deny it though you may, you cannot escape from Truth once its seed has been lodged within your consciousness, for it will draw sustenance from your subconsciousness, and will in time sprout and put forth leaf and blossom.
So, after all, it matters little whether or not the student can fully grasp the teaching at this time. For Time is long, and one has all the time there is in which to master the lesson.
All teachings, at the last, is but a process of seed-sowing.
The Life Beyond Death Published 1912 by Yogi Ramacharaka