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CHAPTER XV

MESMERISM

Perhaps the most distinguished investigator and exponent of Mesmerism since the days of Mesmer himself (1733) was Colonel H. S. Olcott, joint Founder with Madame Blavatsky, and until his death President of the Theosophical Society. The circumstances connected with his healing work are still quite within the memory of many. For three years, from 1880 to 1883, Colonel Olcott used this power, and during the time treated, according to the record, some seven thousand people. Many of the cases were attested to both before and after cure and many witnesses and beneficiaries are still living.

His work was led up to in this way. While the Colonel was on a lecture tour in Ceylon the Buddhist High Priest told him that the Roman Catholic clergy were preparing to establish a healing shrine or holy well there. The Colonel replied that the Buddhists ought to do the same, and that he High Priest should cure the people in the name of the Lord Buddha, and urged that it be done, for his firm conviction was that the healing power was not limited to sects in religion, nor to schools of medicine. Shortly after this conversation a man afflicted with paralysis was introduced to the Colonel, and something seemed to say to him: "Here is your chance fir the making of a shrine to the Lord Buddha."

Having made a study of Mesmeric Healing in his earlier years, though never practicing it, he offered to treat the man, and did so with great success. This was the beginning of his three years of healing. Colonel Olcott's personal attitude was utterly against the taking of pay for cures. We cite one of his cases to illustrate that and other points.

A man suffering from paralysis of one side was brought to him to be healed. He restored the arm to its normal use again, and sat down to rest before working on the paralyzed leg. While resting, the Buddhist Committee, which was selecting the cases for him to treat, told him that the patient was well to do; that he had spent 1,500 rupees on doctors without getting relief. He was avaricious, well known for his closeness. "Now, of all things that are disgusting to the occultist," writes the Colonel in Old Diary Leaves," money greed is one of the chief; it is so low and ignoble a passion. My feelings underwent an instant change toward the patient. The Committee at my suggestion asked him for money for the Buddhist Fund, and he said that, as he was a poor man, he would give one rupee. I told the Committee to take the man away and never let me see him again. But the Committee urged me to continue the case as refusal would be misunderstood, so after a while I had the patient brought to me and within half an hour had released his leg from its state of paralysis, and sent the man away walking as well as anyone.

"Some weeks later, returning to the same town in the course of my tour, inquiring for some of the patients I had been particularity interested in, I mentioned the miser. The reply surprised me very much. The arm, they said, remained cured, but the leg had relapsed into the paralytic state. Although I had read of no similar case in Mesmerism (which was the name the Colonel gave his treatment), the reason suggested itself at once - I had felt no real sympathy for the man after hearing about his miserliness, and therefore my vital aura had not vibrated along the nerves of his leg as it had been applied to the nerves of his arm, so the cure was but temporary. In both treatments I had exactly the same knowledge of the science, and the same measure of vital force to transmit, but in the latter, none of that feeling of sympathy and benevolent intent which, in the case of the arm resulted in a permanent cure."

Colonel Olcott gives some most helpful suggestions upon the permanence of cure. He says the patient was treated while in full possession of his senses. He could not understand a word of English, and must have been doubly sure in his own mind that as his arm was cured, his leg must certainly be. Even the surrounding audience knew nothing of these methods, and consequently were not able to hypnotically suggest anything to the patient. Finally he concludes his philosophizing on his failure to cure this Ceylon case by saying that it powerfully suggest the truth of the ancient teaching, that kind thoughts sent out from one to another carry with them an almost magical power for good, while evil ones have the contrary effect.

Colonel Olcott, in trying to determine the source of his power, makes two suggestions. First, that the healing was done through him by a higher intelligence than his (a Master of Wisdom), and cites the case of a patient he was treating named Badrinath, who was blind from atrophy of the optic disc, and declared incurable by the greatest surgeons. While the Colonel was treating his eyes, upon which work he was closely concentrated, "Badrinath suddenly began describing a shining man whom he, though blind, clairvoyantly saw looking benevolently on him. From the minute description he proceeded to give me, I could not fail to recognize the portrait of one of the most revered of our Theosophical Masters, a fact that was the more delightful in its being so unexpected and so independent of any mental direction on my own part, my mind being wholly fixed on the treatment I was giving."
(Old Diary Leaves, by H. S. Olcott, Vol. II, pp. 431-2.)

The second suggestion of the Colonel was that perhaps the healing was done through the transfusion of his own vitality to the patient. Without doubt such transfusion may have contributed to his success, for a feeble devitalized person could not have done such work, but that would not account for all the phenomena, for the vitality of even healthy people has its limitations. The etheric portion of the physical body is the vehicle of vitality; this vitality may be directed at will to a person, or it may be tapped, so to say, by certain types of people. When not under any special control, it simply radiates in all directions, flowing out chiefly through the hands. Many minor diseases can be cured by increasing the circulation of the vitality of the patient. "A headache, for example, is frequently due to either to a slight congestion of the blood-vessels, or to a similar congestion of the vital fluid in the etheric vessels. In either case, a clairvoyant who can see the obstruction may deal with it by sending a strong current through the head and washing away the congested matter. A man who cannot so see can also produce this result, but since he does not know exactly where to direct this force, he generally wastes a great deal of it."
(The Inner Life, by C. W. Leadbeater, Vol. II., p. 180.)

It seems possible to trace a distinction between Mesmerism and Magnetism here. In ordinary Mesmerism vitality, the health force from the sun's rays, flows through the etheric portion of the physical body, and is directed by the will of the healer to the diseased part. In magnetism the healer raises his consciousness to a higher level, as in the Colonel's case, to the thought of the Great Master, and there, on that higher level the force is poured out through him, and he becomes a channel for the Health-Life. The conditions accompanying some of Colonel Olcott's cures seem to indicate that he sometimes radiate both Vitality and Magnetism, and in special cases was aided by some very advanced intelligences.

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