OBSERVANCES : All religions have certain things which adherents to that religion must do or follow. They are the Disciplines, for without discipline it is not possible to have a controlled, sensible being.
Some call these Observances ‘Stations,’ as witness ‘Stations of the Cross’ in the Christian belief. As witness, also, various forms of procedure in different societies. In occult matters there are five basic observances, or, if you prefer, one can say that there are five basic disciplines which one must follow.
One must have a clean body and a clean mind. One must study one's own body in order that one may get purity of mind. Health is necessary unless one is going in for really occult matters when different rules apply. But to the average person sound health is necessary in order that the mind shall be able to resist the auric emanations of another person who possibly is not so pure minded.
I stated above that one needs health unless one is going in for really deep occult matters when different rules apply. You may be interested to know why different rules apply.
The average person in average health falls between a range of average vibrations, and those average vibrations make the person usually unable to reach a few ‘octaves’ higher, but if a person has some illness then the personal vibrations may be heightened so that one starts at a higher vibration than average, and goes to a much higher vibration than average.
You get the same thing in the case of a dog ; a dog can hear higher sounds than a human can, as witness the ‘silent’ dog whistle. But a human can hear lower sounds than the dog can. In certain cases, then, and only in very dedicated people, an illness is an advantage in that it makes a person respond to a higher frequency of sensory and parasensory impressions. For all others, that is, for all except those who have definite — very definite — knowledge of their destiny, people should cultivate a clean mind in a clean body !
By following the right disciplines, or, to get back to our key word, by obtaining the right observances and purity of mind, one can obtain the highest form of pleasure available on the Earth, and one can thus make great progress towards increasing one's spiritual stature for other incarnations.
We have, then, a clean mind and a clean body. The third of the Observances leads to the elimination of impurities from the body and from the mind, and the cultivation of purer and cleaner attainments, that is, one progresses along the path of spirituality and breaks away from lusts.
The fourth of the Observances exhorts one to associate with those of better abilities and stronger spiritual patterns than one's own. The more one associates with one's ‘betters,’ the more opportunity there is of some of the ‘goodness’ rubbing off on to us. The fourth Observance is that we should constantly strive to associate with those who can set us an example, and lead us along the path of purity and spiritual development.
The fifth Observance is that we should develop the power of contemplation. We should not rush blindly and come to instant, ill-informed decisions. One should think about a thing, contemplate the matter, and then there is the satisfaction of knowing that our decision is made only after careful assessment of all facts in our possession.
OBSTACLES : After one has considered the Observances and what they mean, and how they can help one, one has to take a look at the obstacles which are in the way of continued development. So, what are these obstacles ?
People are faced with a problem. There seems to be no immediate solution to the problem, no solution, that is, which is easy and acceptable to the 'victim.' The person who is suddenly faced with a choice, both paths of which are unpleasant, or distasteful, or entail hard work, or ‘loss of face’, usually comes up with some form of self-induced illness which makes it possible for him to say, ‘Oh, I cannot do that, I am ill !’ Or an onlooker can say, ‘Oh, poor little so-and-so, he cannot be expected to do better for he is ill !’ A major obstacle, then, is one's feeling of inferiority, one's feeling of laziness, and so a self-induced illness is formed which provides an excuse which is not much good on this world, but which is quite valueless on the world beyond.
Another obstacle is dullness, mental lethargy, or, more usually, mental laziness. People take the line of least resistance, they lack the ability to look themselves straight in the face and see what a scruffy little moron they really are. If people would only face up to the truth and make the best of a bad job, the bad job would soon become a better job.
A very big obstacle is excessive talkativeness. Too many people talk too much too often while knowing too little. Talkativeness is a sign of an empty brain. A person receives certain information through the ears, and immediately it pours out of the ever-open mouth without having any opportunity of lodging in the memory cells of the brain. People talk too much because they are (and not merely feel !) inferior. They talk to boost up their own sense of importance, they drone on and on endlessly about the most mundane subjects in a singularly monotonous tone and in a singularly uninformed way. They think they delude the listener and make the listener feel that the speaker is erudite. Instead, the listener usually thinks, ‘What a boring moronic idiot !’ It is necessary to curb one's desire to talk because talkativeness merely gives one an entirely false idea of one's own importance.
All these things are obstacles, obstacles to development, obstacles which divert one from the path of spiritual progress. We must at all times keep before us the knowledge that upon this Earth we are like passengers at some wayside station in the far, far country, we are waiting to get somewhere, and the more we add difficulties the farther back we find ourselves. It is, in fact, something like a game of snakes and ladders ; you move along and you find your counter lands on the head of a snake, and then you get back a lot farther than when you started, but if you play right you go up a ladder and you get sudden promotion !
OCCULTISM :This is concerned with the knowledge of things which are beyond the ordinary mundane senses of the body. Upon this Earth we are confined to certain senses. We can touch a thing and know it is there, we can know if it is hot or cold, or if it gives us pleasure or pain. That is mundane knowledge, but occult knowledge is concerned with the knowing of things which cannot be known by the ordinary mundane powers of the world. That is, while in the flesh you cannot touch it, you can only be aware of it, and when one can be so aware of it one can have.
OCCULT POWERS : Occult powers come to us after years and years of training, and after lives after lives of experience.
In the East the number 8 is a sacred number, a number which is supposed to confer various ‘magical’ powers. In the world of occultism there are eight standard accomplishments, but one cannot have occult powers unless one first sets aside all thoughts of domination over others. For example, the advertisements that say, ‘Dominate others with hypnotism,’ are doing a great disservice to the world as a whole, they are inciting one to evil deeds. You can only go in for occult powers when you are quite certain that you are not going to use those powers for wrong purposes.
The higher Adepts never advise students to try to do all the eight occult accomplishments ; instead one should make haste slowly and progress by comfortable stages.
It is better to try to cultivate good ability on the mundane plane before going in for occult powers, because if one develops occult powers before one is pure enough to control them, they will control the person who develops them, and that can be a source of much grief !
OJAS : This is the highest form of energy in the human body. It shows in the aura first as a dull blue light, but as the purity increases the blue turns to a lighter blue, then to silver, then to a golden radiation.
In the purer type of person Ojas is stored in the brain where it stimulates one's advancement into spiritual and intellectual reaches which normally would be far beyond one. When one sees a person of this type one can see the golden halo or nimbus around the head.
OM : This is known as a word of power. When it is uttered correctly, and with the appropriate force according to the circumstances, it confers great benefit on the utterer. The pronunciation is ‘OH-M.’
It is a definite fact that there are certain Eastern Adepts who can raise people from the dead by uttering a correct combination of sounds. It should be emphasised again, however, that one should not go in for tricks such as this without very special knowledge and without very special reason, because if you raise a person from the dead without knowing what you are doing, you will revivify a person whose brain has deteriorated through oxygen starvation, and thus you will have a typical zombie.
OMTATSAT : This is another mantra. Saying the word properly sets a train of vibrations in motion, and so by repeating the word a few times and in the proper way one can awaken certain centres within. It must be emphasised again that unless a person is properly taught they will not get the correct pronunciation, and so then they can repeat the word until their voice fails and nothing either good or bad will happen.
We have various chakrams which are more or less dormant, atrophied, or ‘asleep in clay’ as one might term it. But by setting up the right vibrations through every molecule of the body we can shake free the chakram so that it has a chance to develop, but this can only be done when a person has pure motives, when a person does not want senseless demonstrations ; demonstrations, materialisations, etc., etc., are, after all, no more than the toys or playthings of immature children, and children should not have the powers which correctly repeated mantras can bring.
OVERSELF : There is a lot of confusion about ego, soul, overself, and all the rest of it. Well, let us remember that we here are like puppet. You might refer at this stage to ‘Puppets’ under the letter P (PLANES OF EXISTENCE).
The Overself is the soul, the super-ego, the super-being, the overseer, the one who manages us from some distant plane of existence. The Overself is the real ‘I.’
Many people have claimed to have originated the word ‘Overself,’ but actually it comes from a very old Tibetan word which indicates loosely ‘the Man in Charge Above.’ So when you think of yourself down here, you should think of yourself as a puppet dangling on the end of a string, the string which is the Silver Cord, trying to carry out the wishes of the Man in Charge Above.
If you are very erudite you may like to have the Sanskrit name ; in Sanskrit the Overself is termed the Adhyatma, and in Sanskrit it is the whole nucleus, the whole power, the whole fount of our existence ; it is the point from which all feeling, all senses, everything about us, originates, and to which everything about us returns.