A Study in

Synthetic Consciousness


George Sidney Arundale


First published 1926


Dr George S Arundale

1878 - 1945


Dr Arundale was International President of

the Theosophical Society (Adyar) from 1933 to 1945



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The Dangers

Of Nirvana



I have gone the whole round of Creation: I saw and I spoke!

I, a work of Godís hand for that purpose, received in my brain

And pronounced on the rest of His Handwork - returned Him again His creationís approval or censure; I spoke as I saw.

I report, as a man may of Godís work - allís love, yet allís law.

Now I lay down the judgment He lent me. Each faculty tasked

To perceive Him, has gained an abyss, where a dewdrop was asked.

Have I knowledge? Confounded it shrivels at Wisdom laid bare.

Have I forethought? How purblind, how blank, to the Infinite Care!

Do I task any faculty highest, to image success?

I but open my eyes, and perfection, no more and no less,

In the kind I imagine, full-fronts me, and God is seen God

In the star, in the stone, in the flesh, in the soul and the clod.20]

And thus looking within and around me, I ever renew

(With that stoop of the soul which in bending upraises it too)

The submission of Manís nothing-perfect to Godís All-Complete,

As by each new obeisance in spirit, I climb to His feet!



THERE is, however, another side to all this. If this consciousness brings with it such wonderfully increased power, such certainty of immortality in bliss, it brings also greatly increased responsibility. It gives me a new and higher life,

but I must live up to that life; to fall from that level, however slightly, is a very serious matter. For example, I have had an experience which I think is worthy of record in this book. The other day, when things were for the moment going somewhat awry, or perhaps I myself was a little off my guard, I felt - I am ashamed to say - somewhat irritable, and I am afraid I expressed myself irritably to one or two of my colleagues. The feeling was slight, and passed almost immediately; but its effect was really quite extraordinary. To all intents and purposes, effective work became impossible for the rest of the day. I worked; I went through routine duties; but the elan vital was absent.


The very moment I weakly allowed irritability to enter, peace departed, and I knew at once I had made a serious mistake. The irritability was only superficial; it was certainly not deep down; yet the disturbance even of the surface sent a shock through the whole system, and excluded me for the time being from the new kingdom I had hitherto been successfully inhabiting.

Everyone of my bodies, from the physical upwards or inwards, became disturbed, and I passed a very unpleasant time.


In the course of a recent address, Signor Mussolini advised his audience to live dangerously. I have been thinking that to come into touch with Nirvanic consciousness is distinctly dangerous living, and this little episode of irritability has more than confirmed me in my opinion. In any case, to hold even a reflection of Nirvanic consciousness on the physical plane is no slight strain, for it means that every impact, whether from without or from within, is immeasurably intensified. That which to many might be but a ripple, to me is now a storm. The various bodies are infinitely more sensitive to external vibrations, while every word, feeling, thought, action, is charged with far greater power. The result is a much more intense living. Every minute is more fully crammed than ever before ďwith sixty secondsí worth of distance runĒ.


To control Nirvanic consciousness involves a stupendous increase of power - power which may be used for good or for evil. I presume that were it consistently used for evil it would have to be shut off. It would be too dangerous to allow Nirvanic power to flow in wrong directions. But, short of this, I have come to the conclusion that it is a dangerous experiment to entrust

an individual with this power, as I have reason to know in connection with my moment of irritability. I had no idea the effect of a comparatively little outburst could last so long. As I write these words, on the afternoon of the following day, I am still suffering from the after effects.


I clearly perceive how dangerous it is to have weaknesses. I really do not know what I should do if I became unable to control myself most rigidly, so that the more harmful weaknesses simply cease to exist. They must go if I am to travel with reasonable speed through the various sub-planes of Nirvana, or I might meet with a terrible catastrophe. Certain weaknesses are probably more dangerous than others. It is very dangerous to be proud; to be angry and irritable; to exaggerate, still more to lie; to misunderstand, to wrong another, to be uncharitable, or destructively critical; to have the lower prejudices and superstitions; as, for example, that God is terrible, avenges, is to be feared, condemns to everlasting punishment, can only be reached through a certain specific channel or through belief in certain specific dogmas or doctrines.


For at least a couple of days life has been very much more difficult because of that moment of irritability. I hope my friends have not noticed anything, because this would only make matters worse. In any case, the difficulty has not been to be overtly harmonious with the outer world, but to be truly harmonious and to maintain receptivity to the inner world. I have felt like some one who has, by his own act, been expelled from home, and is waiting in the outer cold until he can recover his equilibrium.


Every intensification of consciousness increases the delicacy of poise and balance of the human machine, so that, as time passes, smaller and smaller disturbances produce greater and greater effect. A little push gives a great swing - a dangerous swing, if the push be in the wrong direction. At the Nirvanic level ordinary human weaknesses have to become impossible. Their retention would simply mean disruption, disintegration. It is very dangerous to live in Nirvana and to maintain, perhaps even to increase, the contacts with the outer world. In many ways it would be much easier to retire to lonely places, to the forest, so that many external circumstances, which tend to promote internal disturbances, might cease to be operative.


On the other hand, for some of us, such retirement is not in the order of things, and we must bravely face the dangerous situation of immersion in the storms and stresses of the lower worlds. More and more must we abide in the Light we know, living ever at the centre and from the centre to the circumference, never away from the centre so that we lose

our connection with it.


For a moment, during the period of irritability, I was away from my centre, and the result was - well, not disastrous, but at least highly disturbing. It is by no means easy to get back to the centre when one has broken away from it. I am getting back to the Light, but I have had a stern lesson, one which I hope I shall never forget; and I shudder to think what would happen if at any time I became really angry or indulged in one or other of those weaknesses which are intolerable to Nirvanic life. I should expect at the least an illness of the physical body as the reflection of illness elsewhere. I notice particularly how appalling are the effects of depression, unhappiness, cruelty, falsehood.


These are the negation of the Light, and a clash between the positive and negative is productive of the most serious consequences. On the whole, I hope, I am gaining steadiness, and my one saving grace is, perhaps, absorption in the Mastersí work, an absorption which makes me either forget, or not care, to do the things I might otherwise do to my own detriment and to that of my surroundings.


But I perceive very clearly the vital need for incessant watchfulness and self-control, and I venture to say to those who long for the glories I have endeavoured to describe: Remember the danger of holding Lightning while there is still the grosser dross to burn away. Remember the danger of recoil of power upon yourself when it meets weaknesses which have no business to thwart it as it should pass through you on its mission to the worlds without.


Nirvana is Power. As we are, so shall we use it; but woe to us if we use it unwisely, ignorantly, selfishly! Lightning illumines, energizes; but it also destroys and consumes. Are we certain of our strength and self-control to use it to illumine and to energize? Let us look at our thoughts, our feelings, our actions, our speech. Let us take them as they are. Are they sometimes

selfish, narrow, unkind? Now let us imagine Nirvana-Force vibrating with all its marvellous power in every thought, feeling, action, word. The good in us will, of course, be magnified; but so will the weakness. More power in everything we think, feel, do or say. Looking at ourselves without prejudice, how often would

Nirvanic force be flowing in undesirable channels? Take this experience of mine which I have just described. See the far-reaching results of just a touch, not of anger, but of irritability. Realize that in the midst of these results one must take greatest care not to make matters still worse by being depressed or worried. On the contrary, one has to try to make up for oneís foolishness at the very time when it is most difficult to do so. It is hard work indeed for a novice like myself, and frankly I do not recommend the experiment except under very adequate safeguards. I find life infinitely more wonderful and purposeful, but not for an instant must there be the slightest cessation of watchfulness over oneself.


I might add, perhaps, that the observable effects of the introduction of this momentary irritability were dullness, distinct diminution of keenness of perception, loss of the sense of ineffable peace, a sense of drooping power, of power frittered away instead of being straight, direct and piercing. The

scintillations of Light I have already described dulled down; I seemed to have contracted. I do not want the experience again, and I shall try to avoid it.



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