We stepped through the doorway into a long corridor, from which we entered the garden. I stopped in amazement to view the profusion of plants and trees which looked like a conference of the plant life of the world. Most impressive were the unusual plants of the tropics with their lush blooms, the towering date- palms and the giant ferns. This was a wonderland rather than a formal garden, beautifully placed and planned and showing the meticulous care with which it was constructed.
This gathering of all the earth's floral beauty was in strong contrast with the stolid mountains and desolate crags, to which I raised my eyes, and with the scrub pines hanging to the mountainside, which I also had seen before entering the enchanted valley.
Part of the garden was devoted to many and varied forms of rose bushes which were blooming profusely, perfuming the air with strange scents. At one time you could smell the aroma of the delicate rose; then that would vanish and you would catch the pungent odor of the hyacinth and the heliotrope. Many of the plants were so strange that I didn't know their names.
And yet, with all this lush life, the garden was not a hot-house; there was no roof except that of the clear blue sky. I wondered at first if it had underground heating to keep the plants in their natural state.
As I turned toward the Master, I remarked, "For one who is seeking simplicity, it seems that you have a great deal of luxury. I don't mean to be impertinent at all, but those who, as you say, live in the paradise of their own souls do not care for external sensual gratification.. How do you feel about this?"
The Master answered:
"We have created these illusions to make your visit an agreeable one in every respect. You see, all these gardens and all these beautiful flowers cost us nothing but an effort of our imagination and our knowledge of the creative patterns of Nature, and we conformed to them in bringing about this garden."
I stepped to one side of the path and broke a rose off a bush. I felt of it; I smelled of it; I examined its petals. It was more beautiful and more fragrant than any rose I had seen in the outer world. Then I turned to the Master and said, "It is real!"
"Yes," he relied, "but it is the effect of our imagination and creation and it costs us only our mental and spiritual effort."
"Surely this rose which I hold in my hand is not an illusion or an effect of my imagination?"
The Master said, "No, it is not produced by your imagination, but it is the product of the imagination of Nature, whose imagination and processes can be guided by the spiritual will of an Adept or Master.
"This world, this planet, all of the planets, these great mountains that you see surrounding this valley, the oceans, the rivers and the various life forms of animals and plants and trees and new- born babes are part of the great Universal Mind, the great God which is the Creator of all forms.
"Forms are not solid substance in this world. They are sort of illusionary and they are the shapes of substances. The basic forms which are used are the circle, the triangle and the square. Of course, any form without substance in the world, the plane which it is on, is unthinkable and cannot exist.
"There is only one substance which is known, and that is the universal, primordial element of matter. One might say that it is the totality of the substance of the Universal Mind or the Body of God. It contains the Akasha.
"The basic element of all matter is invisible but present every- where in this solar system. But, only when motivated by the Spirit, does it take a certain form and assume a certain density, dense enough to resist the penetrating influence of the Light of the Christos. Only then does it come within the range of vibration which may be reached and sensed by the physical and sensual perception of the physical eyes. Then, for one who is working with it, it assumes an objective shape.
"The Universal Will-Power permeates all, and guided by the spiritual intelligence of a Master whose consciousness pervades all his surroundings, may then create in the Universal Mind those shapes which he, the Master, imagines in the Universal Mind which lives in him.
"By certain occult processes of great simplicity, but which exist primarily in an effort of will, the shapes created in the mind substance of the Master are rendered dense. Thereby they come into the world and are real to you."
I said to him,
"This is still largely incomprehensible to me. Tell me this: Can an image formed in your head come out and assume a material form?"
The Master smiled at me, as if amused at my ignorance, and said:
"Do you believe that the sphere of mind in which man lives exists only within his own skull? I should be very sorry for such a man. For then he would not be able to perceive anything except the processes going on in that part of his mind contained within his skull. To him, the whole world would be nothing but impenetrable and incomprehensible darkness.
"We must remember that man cannot perceive anything that does not exist within his own mind or consciousness. He would not be able to see the sun or any other object. Fortunately for man, however, the sphere of mind is the sphere of Mind of the Father and therefore reaches as far as the uttermost reaches of space. His power of perception is his limit of sight. His mind comes in contact with all things, however distant they might be from his physical vehicle.
"Remember that the mind of man, not the physical brain, receives all impressions, but these impressions all come to his consciousness within the physical brain, which is merely the center where the messages from the mind are received.
"Putting it on the physical plane, his consciousness is the cloud of vibration which permeates and overshadows his physical brain as the mass mind of a city or a society overshadows that city."
The Master stopped speaking and turned to me. He had been looking in the distance, and he pointed toward a beautiful magnolia, rather tall and covered with a great array of blossoms. "Watch closely," he said.
As he spoke, the tree became less and less dense. Its green foliage faded to gray, and the white blossoms could hardly be distinguished from the leaves. It became shadowy and transparent, until it stood, as the mere ghost of a tree. Finally it disappeared completely.
The Master continued:
"You see, the tree stood in the sphere of my mind as it stood in yours, and we are all living within the sphere of each others' minds or the general mind -- within the vibrational field of each other. That person who has developed to a state where he has spiritual perception may at all times see the images in the mind of another.
"The Master Teacher creates his own images; the ordinary mortal lives in the products of the imaginations of others. He may also live in the imagination of Nature. For we live in the paradise of our own soul, and the objects you behold exist in the realm of your own soul.
"But the spheres of our souls are not narrow. They are beyond the limits of the physical body and will expand until we become one with the Over-soul and as large.
"Mankind in general knows little about the powers of imagination. If they were conscious of it, they would be more careful with what they think. For as man thinks good or evil, that thought calls into existence its corresponding form or power, which may assume density and become a living thought and live long after his physical body has passed away. It will accompany his soul because the creations are attracted to their creator."
With the impact of his statement, I asked, "Does every evil thought, or the imagination of something evil, create that evil and cause it to exist as a living entity?"
"No, not at all," answered the Master. "Every thought calls into existence the form or power of which we think, but these things have no life until we infuse them with life from the will. They are like shadows and soon fade away.
"If this were not so, men could not read of a crime without thinking of committing it, and thereby create the most vicious Elementals. You may imagine evil of all kinds but unless you desire to perform evil deeds, the imaginations receive no life. But if your will is so evil that you desire to perform these evil deeds and would be willing to perform them, if you had the external means to do so, this would be what Jesus was talking about: that it was as bad to think of evil as to do evil. In other words, it is the same as actually committing the offense.
"It is the will which endows the creations of imagination with the life because will and life are fundamentally identical but of opposite polar densities.
"Man should think of will as a life-giving power, that will- power which is in the heart. Will-power that merely exists by the brain is like the cold light of the moon and has no power to warm the form upon which it falls. The life-giving will-power comes from the heart and acts like the life-giving power of the sun, which calls life into action in the minerals, plants and animals. It is what man desires with his heart, not imagines in his mind, which has power.
"The fact is that it is very fortunate for man that few really understand spiritual will-power and its processes of creation through use of the imagination. Otherwise, the world would be filled with materialized monsters which would devour mankind. For the recesses of the subconscious of man are filled with abominable creatures. Civilized man harbors many evil desires.
"At the stage of development where he stands now, he only has enough will-power to create the evil forms in his own mind. Thus he reaps his own harvest upon himself and leaves others unaffected. It is very important that man does not come into spiritual powers until he becomes extremely virtuous. These are mysteries which in former times were kept secret. Our Lord Jesus Christ said that all these mysteries would be revealed and so they are in these works."
The Master and I walked through the gothic portal into the dining hall. The hall, lighted by four high windows, was octagonal in form and richly furnished. A number of Brothers were assembled, and I recognized some of them from their pictures in historical representations.
To my astonishment there were two women present. One was very tall and stately and the other was of smaller stature and more delicate, no less noble in appearance and exceedingly beautiful.
The presence of women in a monastery of Brothers of the Golden Cross surprised me, and my surprise was noted by all present. After I had been introduced to all persons present -- or, to be correct, all were introduced to me, for they all seemed to know who I was -- one of the women smiled and asked:
"Why should you be so surprised to see Adepts inhabit female forms in the company of those whose forms appear to be male? What has intelligence to do with the sex of the body? Where the sexual instinct ends, there ends the influence of sex. Come, have a chair and have some of the delicious fruits of our garden."
We sat at tables which were luxuriously spread with the fruits of the earth some of which I had not seen before and many of which are not grown in this country -- and certainly not in the area of the barren mountains which rimmed the valley.
As I looked around the room, I knew I was in the presence of an illustrious company. I took a seat next to a tall and stately woman and we began a conversation in which I took a healthy part. I knew and felt only too well that I was in the presence of my superiors, but all my companions exerted their powers to reassure me that I was their equal. Their humility was truly of a divine nature which they exhibited toward one another and toward me.
My long trek up the mountain and my experiences since entering this luxuriant valley had given me a great appetite, and I proceeded to show my hosts that I truly enjoyed the repast which they had set before me. The Brothers and Sisters, though, hardly tasted the food, but they were pleased to see me enjoy it. The noble lady which sat next to me soon succeeded in making my embarrassment vanish, answered my questions as to the cause of certain occult phenomena, and otherwise conducted a very exciting conversation.
We came to speak of the unbounded courage which one must possess to enter into occult research.
"The whole elemental world," she said, "with all its monstrosities and animal elements, is opposed to man's spiritual progress. The animals living in the animal principle of man's constitution live on his life and on the substance of his animal elements.
"When the divine spirit awakens within the heart of man and sends his light into those animal elements, the substance on which these parasites feed is destroyed and they begin to rage like famished beasts.
"They fight for their lives and for their food and they become the greatest impediments and opponents to the spiritual
progress of man. They live in the soul of man and, under normal conditions, they are invisible to the external senses. But under certain conditions, they may even become visible and objective.
"If a man's selfish desires, the minor type, are all swallowed up by some master-passion of his, it merely shows that a major Elemental, or monster, has grown in his soul and devoured all of the minor forces."
I said it was difficult truly to realize the possibility that man had such living, walking monsters. I expressed the wish that I
could see one of these "Elementals," so as to realize what they were really like.
She asked, "Would you not be afraid if some vicious animal appeared before you?"
Male-like, I boasted of my bravery and said I had never known fear of anything I could feel or see with my eyes. I also said that knowledge dispelled fear and that fear is an outgrowth of ignorance.
"You are right," she said, "but would you be so kind as to pass me that basket of pears?"
I stretched forth my hand to pick up the wicker basket of pears from the midst of the table. As I was about to grasp the basket, a full-grown rattlesnake reared its head and noisily vibrated its rattles as if in great anger.
Horror struck, I withdrew my hand, barely escaping its venomous fangs. But while I stared at it, the serpent coiled itself against amongst the pears. Its glistening scales disappeared, and the snake was gone.
"If you had not been afraid," said one of the Brothers, "and grasped the snake, you would have found it to be merely an illusion."
An unusual part of this was the fact that no one laughed at my fear and I felt no embarrassment. I knew it had been done to satisfy my insatiable curiosity.
"The will," remarked the Master who had brought me in, "is not merely a life-giving power; it is also a destroyer. It will cause the atoms of primordial matter to collect around its center; it holds them together or it may disperse them into space. It is the Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva in one; the creator; maintainer and destroyer of form.
"We are master of these Elementals. If we do not master them, they will master us. If we attack them without fear, they can do us no harm, our will is destructive to them."
The conversation turned to subjects related to occultism. "Occultism and alchemy," said one of the Brothers, "are at once the most difficult and the easiest subjects to grasp. They are indeed easy to comprehend when we remain natural and look at the mysteries of Nature in the light of reason.
"Reason is present in each human being, except those which we might call idiots or the deformed. We have been endowed by Nature at birth with this reason. But, if in the place of reason, an irrational education gives one the artificial candlelight of false logic, sophistry and speculation instead, then man steps out of his natural state and becomes unnatural.
"The images of the eternal truths which were mirrored in his mind while he was a child and innocent, and not sufficiently developed intellectually to understand them, become, by the time his intellect is developed, so distorted by the prejudices and misconceptions by which his mind is fed that the true and original forms of truths are no longer recognizable. Therefore, instead of seeing truth he only sees hallucinations created by his fancies."
This last statement sent an idea which I had not entertained before springing into my mind.
"Do you mean to say," I asked, "that man can know anything about the nature of things over that which is taught to him by others?"
My answer came from the Master who brought me and he first asked me several questions.
"Does the child need an instructor to explain to him the use of his mother's breast? Do the cattle need a book on botany to know which herbs are poisonous and which are wholesome? Those artificial systems which have been created by man, and are therefore unnatural, cannot be read in the book of Nature. The child needs man's instructions to know the name of a thing which has been invented by man.
"The essential attributes of a thing are independent of the name given to it. Shakespeare says, 'that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.'
"At the present state of evolution of man and his educational systems, his natural philosophers know all about the classification and naming of things, but very little about their interior structures. Would a modern botanist know about the signature or nature of a plant?
"But the occultist recognizes the medical value and the occult properties of the plant as he sees them. The animals have remained natural while man has become unnatural.
"These senses are classified as instincts. A sheep does not need to know when a tiger is approaching or to be informed of it. The sheep knows without seeing.
"If, by some miracle, a sheep's intellect was increased so that he understood what he looked like and how he functioned, would he still not have to become conscious of dangers through his intuition rather than his knowledge of the external?
"When scientists are educated, they are taught all about the external forms of man. That form is entirely lost if we forget the reality which is shown us through the spiritual intellect.
Remember that foresight is just spiritual intuition in most cases."
"But, I objected, "is it not true that man enjoys prerogatives over the animal creation because he possesses an intellect which is able to understand, while animals merely instinctively feel?"
"True," said the Brother, "but man should use his intellect in accordance with reason and not oppose it. Intellect is merely placing the nature of activity on a biased basis, while the function of reason is to understand that which is intuitively felt by the soul, or perceived by the exterior senses."
"Is it not true," I asked, "if the intellect were to act only in harmony with reason, all intellectual human beings would also be wise?"
"We do know from experience," answered the Brother, "that intellectuality is not necessarily accompanied by wisdom, for cunningness is often the most vicious, and the most learned ones are often the most unreasonable."
The Master continued:
"The first important step which man must take to attain spiritual power is to become natural. Only when he has succeeded in throwing off all his unnatural qualities can he hope to become spiritually strong.
"If a person became spiritual before he became natural, he would be an unnatural spiritual monster. Such monsters have existed and do exist. They are the spiritual powers of evil acting through human form, they are the masters of black magic, villains and sorcerers of varied grades and degrees."
"By what you say then," I said, "I presume that great criminals are, to a certain extent, black magicians."
"This is an interesting thing," answered the Brother. "The majority of evil-doers do evil, not for the love of evil, but for the purpose of attaining some selfish end.
"To a certain degree, the villains who are on the road to mastery of black magic do evil because they love evil. In the same sense, those on the road to true Adeptship perform good merely because they love good.
"Whether man performs good or evil deeds the constant or frequent repetition of such acts causes him finally to perform them instinctively. Then his own nature becomes gradually identified either with good or evil.
"The man who tortures a fly because he is pleased to do so is father along on the road to villainy and evil, with consequent destruction, than one who murders because he imagines he does it of necessity."