The psychic realm is not the same as the spiritual realm. Psychic faculties and powers are not the same as spiritual faculties and powers. In fact, there is nothing spiritual about being psychic.
Many people today confuse the two and seem to think that “psychic” and “spiritual” are virtually synonymous and that someone with psychic faculties – whether merely claimed or actually proven – must undoubtedly be a spiritually developed or evolved soul.
It is unclear where this peculiar notion originated but it is certainly clear that it has never been held by any of the spiritual or esoteric traditions in history. All presentations and teachings of the Ancient Wisdom, in whatsoever nation and at whatsoever time, have always drawn a very clear and distinct line between psychic and spiritual.
H.P. Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Movement, was never sparing in her criticism and sincere warning for those individuals who would rather plunge into the psychic realms and psychic-type experiences than actually apply their minds, intelligence, and personal effort to make proper spiritual progress.
She explained that a psychic merely has the ability to see on a different plane of material density than the average person. But the level on which they are seeing and experiencing things is nevertheless still material and barely above the physical level, regardless of how wondrous and exciting it may all seem to the psychic themselves.
In using the term “psychic,” we don’t simply mean those who bill themselves as psychics and offer (or sell, as is more often the case) their “psychic services” to others, although of course such people are included under the term. But a psychic is anyone who is prone to having experiences of a particular type and nature.
These are generally marked by (a) their highly fantastical, sensational, sentimental or dramatic quality and content, (b) their emphasis and focus on the supposed spiritual importance, greatness, or high nature of the one having the experience, and (c) peculiar sensations such as feeling “the touch of angels” or receiving apparent visitations from the likes of Jesus, Buddha, or the Virgin Mary, or hearing voices which are thought by the individual to belong to spiritual or divine beings.
Anyone who has explored today’s spiritual scene will be aware that such people can be found in their tens of thousands all around the world, although particularly here in the West where ignorance of the low nature of psychism is more predominant than in the East.
These people – psychics – quite often report having visions or recollections of past lives or glimpses into the future or out of body experiences, sometimes occurring on a daily basis or even numerous times every day. More often than not they are also found to be highly deluded about various matters, particularly their own importance and the extent of their own abilities, and invariably tend to view all their experiences as infallible and accurate, without even stopping to consider that things might be otherwise.
They are also often drawn towards such pursuits as mediumship, spiritualism, channelling, the “Lightworker” or “Ascension” movements within the New Age movement, “angel readings,” crystals, and the like, and tend to be very uninterested or even dismissive about any form of spirituality which happens to have an authentic, intelligent, logical, or philosophical basis to it. Rather than thinking, they prefer feeling and sensing. They may be very heart-oriented but never truly combine heart with head, which is the ideal.
It is relatively easy for a person to have psychic experiences. Some carry such propensities over from past lives, while others develop them in the present lifetime, often unintentionally and as a result of engaging in harmful spiritual practices such as trying to awaken the Kundalini, trying to make contact with beings in other realms, trying to open the Third Eye, or undisciplined meditation, etc.
The psychic realm is only one level above the physical realm and in fact interpenetrates it to a large extent. Bearing this in mind we can more clearly understand why the psychic plane – or astral plane or astral light as it is also known in Theosophy – is spoken of as the unseen atmosphere surrounding the terrestrial and indelibly imprinted with every thought, word, emotion, imagination, experience, and action of humankind, past and present. In a very real sense it is a type of “collective unconscious.” Its contents, images, and inhabitants are derived solely from the physical plane.
Thus psychism is something earthly and material in nature, rather than something spiritual and divine. Entering into this vast realm, one immediately opens oneself up to deception, delusion, and confusion. Full of images, scenery, and beings which seem to be real and genuine, it easily leads astray not only the psychic but also anyone and everyone who is foolish or gullible enough to give credence to the words and claims of such a person.
It is possible that a psychic may occasionally have glimpses of things from a higher and more reliable dimension but these are very rare and tend to be so tinged and coloured by things of a psychic-astral nature that they become virtually worthless and indecipherable. Madame Blavatsky described the psychic realm as “the great deceiver” and emphasised that psychic vision can never penetrate beyond the astral plane, which she spoke of as being the realm of deception and delusion par excellence.
It is true that there are seven sub-planes of the astral plane, since all manifestation is of a septenary nature, but even if the individual could reach to the highest of the sub-planes he or she would still merely be in the psychic atmosphere and attraction of our Earth, populated with humanity’s psychic refuse, which tends to be more evil and harmful than good and beneficial.
True genuine clairvoyance, clairaudience, and so forth, is not psychic but spiritual. The difference between the two is as the difference between daylight and dark. It would be safe to say that those highly advanced souls who are in possession of true spiritual clairvoyance invariably keep quiet about it and work silently, wisely, and intelligently for the good of humanity, without ever drawing attention to themselves in any way. They know that they are working in the pure realm of the spiritual and avoid the muddied waters of the psychic like a plague.
The Master K.H. wrote that 99% of all so-called spiritual experiences are in fact false.
They are in those cases not spiritual experiences at all but psychic delusions. Anyone who cannot immediately tell the difference or even recognise that there is a difference should steer clear of all such things, for their own sake and safety, and focus instead on things more truly important and beneficial such as purifying one’s daily thoughts and life, cultivating concentration and focus in all of one’s endeavours, practising the utmost love and compassion towards all beings – animals as well as human – and learning to apply one’s mind and intellect to serious spiritual study and philosophical thinking.
As has been shown, the psychic stands in the way as a barrier between the individual and the high spiritual realms. It is not a help to one’s spiritual life but a pernicious hindrance. There is nothing spiritual about being psychic.
But as for such things as the high spiritual clairvoyance mentioned above, we should be realistic, sensible, and humble and accept that very few of us stand any chance of reaching to such levels or developing such faculties in this present lifetime. And so what? We have no real need to anyway. What we do urgently need to be developing, practising, and perfecting are the qualities of love, wisdom, and compassion.
What we do need to be dwelling upon are those memorable words from “The Voice of the Silence” – “To live to benefit mankind is the first step. To practice the six glorious virtues is the second.” The six virtues are the Paramitas spoken of in Mahayana Buddhism as dana (giving), shila (moral discipline), kshanti (patience), virya (effort), dhyana (meditative concentration), and prajna (wisdom). This is what Theosophy recommends and encourages rather than attempts at psychic development.
True, the notion of the Paramitas and of love and compassion and selfless service to humanity may not sound exciting and intriguing like some psychic experiences but these are truly spiritual and engage the soul and higher faculties of man, which are far above and beyond his psychic nature. These are of permanent and lasting value and provide the firm grounds for development of genuine spiritual faculties and powers in subsequent lifetimes, whereas the experiences and practices in the psychic realm are next to worthless in the whole scheme of things.
They are only of any worth and value if the individual realises and learns their illusory and deceptive nature and thus ceases to give credence to them or have hunger for them.
It is impossible to say how many hundreds or thousands of people who could have made a positive and effective difference in this world have ended up ruined and inwardly in tatters because of falling into the wide open trap of psychism. It is one of the methods used by the enemies of humanity to sabotage the spiritual progress of promising but unwitting souls who could otherwise have become effective ambassadors for the cause of spirituality in the world.
It is hoped that this article may go at least some way to helping others not to make such a mistake.
“We have to do as Buddha told his disciples: preach, promulgate, expound, illustrate, and make clear in detail all the great things we have learned. That is our work, and not the bringing out of surprising things about clairvoyance and other astral matters, nor the blinding of the eye of science by discoveries impossible for them but easy for the occultist. The Master’s plan has not altered. He gave it out long ago. It is to make the world at large better, to prepare a right soil for the growing out of the powers of the soul, which are dangerous if they spring up in our present selfish soil. It is not the Black Lodge that tries to keep back psychic development; it is the White Lodge. The Black would fain have all the psychic powers full flower now, because in our wicked, mean, hypocritical, and money-getting people they would soon wreck the race.” – William Quan Judge, The Closing Cycle