Psychic powers are extra-sensory abilities known in India as Siddhis. They are of two types: the lower and the higher. The lower siddhis can be activated by artificial means such as drugs, manipulation of the breathing, or any method that brings about paralysis of the physical senses. These methods produce only temporary results and are frequently injurious to physical health. H. P. Blavatsky wrote:
The Theosophical Society does indeed desire to promote the spiritual growth of every individual who comes within its influence, but its methods are those of the ancient Rishis, its tenets those of the oldest Esotericism; it is no dispenser of patent nostrums composed of violent remedies which no honest healer would dare to use.
In this connection we would warn all our members, and others who are seeking spiritual knowledge, to beware of persons offering to teach them easy methods of acquiring psychic gifts; such gifts (laukika) are indeed comparatively easy of acquirement by artificial means, but fade out as soon as the nerve-stimulus exhausts itself. The real seership and adeptship which is accompanied by true psychic development (lokothra), once reached, is never lost.
Natural vs. Trained
In the Theosophical tradition, it is maintained that psychics must undergo a rigorous course of training before their visions can be reliable. As Mahatma M. wrote:
There is one general law of vision (physical and mental or spiritual) but there is a qualifying special law proving that all vision must be determined by the quality or grade of man's spirit and soul, and also by the ability to translate divers qualities of waves of astral light into consciousness. There is but one general law of life, but innumerable laws qualify and determine the myriads of forms perceived and of sounds heard. There are those who are willingly and others who are unwillingly — blind. Mediums belong to the former, sensitives to the latter. Unless regularly initiated and trained — concerning the spiritual insight of things and the supposed revelations made unto man in all ages from Socrates down to Swedenborg and "Fern" — no self-tutored seer or clairaudient ever saw or heard quite correctly.
C. W. Leadbeater recommended that before activating the etheric chakras that will open the waking consciousness to the higher planes the aspirant should follow a spiritual discipline of study and meditation that will develop his astral and mental bodies:
First there should be a development of the astral and mental bodies, so that they may be definite vehicles of consciousness on their own planes; then may come the awakening of the chakras in the etheric double by means of which the valuable knowledge gained through those higher bodies may be brought down to the physical plane consciousness. But all this should be done only when and as the Master advises; remember, in At the Feet of the Master the Teacher said: "Have no desire for psychic powers".
Articles and pamphlets
- Psychic and Spiritual Development by Annie Besant
- A Psychic Warning by H. P. Blavatsky
- Spiritual Progress by H. P. Blavatsky
- Astral Intoxication by William Q. Judge
- Of Occult Powers and their Acquirement by William Q. Judge
- Spiritual Gifts and their Attainment by William Q. Judge
- How to become psychic by Geoffrey Hodson
- Assessing Psychism by Hugh Shearman
- Questioning Reality: A Physicist's View of Psychic Abilities by Russell Targ
- Is Psychism the Same as Spirituality? by The Theosophical Society in Australia
- Experiments in Telepathy by David Bruce
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VI (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1989), 608.
- Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 31 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 98.
- Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 101 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 347.
- Charles Webster Leadbeater, Talks on the Path of Occultism Volume 2, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 47.