Eastern and Western Methods of Development

LETTER NO. 36 - November, 1913

We receive frequent requests for help from people who unfortunately have belonged to societies where they came under the domination of spirit controls who now haunt and hound them until life becomes a burden. We also receive requests for help from people who have frequented societies teaching the Hindu breathing exercises. The impatience to enter the invisible worlds prompts many such people to take up exercises, the dangerous nature of which they do not realize until it is too late and they are broken down in health and spirit. They they come to us asking for a relief which we have unfortunately been able to give to all who have so far applied, even though some were on the verge of insanity.

Therefore the Rosicrucian literature has been replete with warnings to shun all Eastern breathing exercises, as they are unfit for Western people. It is with considerable sorrow that we have heard of a student who is now ill as a consequence of breathing exercises. We therefore feel that it may be well to once more state the reason for the difference between the Eastern and Western methods so that it may be made clear why it is wise to refrain from such exercises.

In the first place, it is necessary to realize that the evolution of spirit and the evolution of matter go hand in hand. The spirit evolves by dwelling in vehicles of dense matter and by working with the material found in the world. Thus, the spirit progresses, and matter is also being refined because the spirit works with it. The more advanced spirits naturally draw to themselves finer matter than those behind them upon the path of evolution, and the atoms in the bodies of a highly evolved race are more sensitive than those of the earlier peoples.

Therefore the atoms of cultured people in the West respond to vibratory waves not yet contacted by those who dwell in Eastern bodies. Breathing exercises are used to awaken the sleeping atoms of the Easter aspirant, and a vigorous course of this treatment is necessary to raise his vibratory pitch. The American Indian or Bushman might take these exercises with impunity for years, but it is an entirely different matter when a person with a highly sensitized Western body attempts such treatment. The atoms of his or her body have already been sensitized by the ordinary evolution; and when the person receives the added impetus of breathing exercises, the atoms simply run riot, and it is extremely difficult to bring them into proper repose again.

As it may do some good it may not be amiss to mention that the writer had had personal experience in the matter. Years ago, when he started on the Path and was imbued with the characteristic impatience common to ardent seekers after knowledge, he read of the breathing exercises published by Swami Vivekananda and commenced to follow directions with the result that after two days the vital body had been pulled out of the physical. This produced a sensation of walking on air, of being unable to get the feet down on solid ground; the whole body seemed to be vibrating at an enormous pitch. Common sense then came to the rescue. The exercises were stopped, but it was fully two weeks before the normal condition of walking on the ground with a firm step was experienced, and before the abnormal vibrations ceased.

In the parable, it is said that some were thrown out who had no wedding garment. Unless we first evolve the soul body, any attempt to enter the invisible worlds spells certain disaster; and any teacher who professes ability to railroad people into the invisible realms is not to be depended upon. There is only one way--patient persistence in well-doing.