[On Levitation and Flight]
Theosophist, August, 1882
Article Selections by W. R. Frink | Editor’s Note by H.P.B.
. . . I have . . . followed your writings and teachings in The Theosophist from the first to last, and the powers of the Yogi still seem to me most important and mysterious. If it is a fact, that man can, by study and training, become able to project his simulacrum, or astral body, to any distance and make it visible at his pleasure, or can walk on the surface of water, levitate himself at pleasure, or throw himself into a cataleptic state at will and remain in it for months without food—it certainly opens up to the minds of the Western peoples, an idea of the capabilities of man, in an entirely new light. And, if as you say, it is in accordance with natural law, we certainly should find somewhere in nature parallel phenomena. . . .
[Note: the author goes on to give two example from nature: animal hybernation in relation to cataleptic conditions and the flight of birds in relation to levitation, which he goes on about at length.]
. . . Can you explain the mysteries of birds flying? If the power of Yogis are what they are reported to be (and there is little room to doubt without discrediting all human testimony), the Christian miracles are only Yogism . . .
Editor’s Note. [H.P.B.]—We would fain answer the friendly voice from the Mormon metropolis to the full satisfaction of the writer, did he but deal with problems demanding less elaborate explanation. In view of the fact that occult science explains the mysteries of bird-flying and fish-swimming on principles entirely opposed to the accepted scientific theory of the day, one might well hesitate before putting out the true explanation. However, since we already stand so low in the favour of the orthodox scientists, we will say a few words upon the subject; but they must be few indeed. “If,” writes our correspondent, “we take the position that birds have the power to make themselves light or heavy at will, the phenomenon of their flight becomes easy to comprehend.”
And why not take up such a position? Whether by instinct or will, whether an effect identical with another is produced consciously or unconsciously, by animal or man, the cause underlying that invariable and identical result must be one and the same, barring diversity of conditions and exceptions as to unimportant details. The action of certain fishes which, by swallowing large draughts of air, distend an internal bag and thereby, becoming specifically lighter, float above the surface of the water, does not militate against the scientific theory of swimming, when it concerns such fish, man or a bladder filled with air. But we are left as wise as ever when it is a question of rapid sinking, to the bottom, whether by man or whale. In the former case such sinking might be ascribed to volition. But man’s inability to sink as rapidly and to such a depth, even though a most experienced diver—who has to sink himself by a stone—proves that there must be something more than blind instinct or conscious volition. What is it? Occult science tells us the word: it is “a change of polarity and of normal gravity,” not yet admissible by science. With birds and animals—as instinctive a mechanical action as any other they execute: with man, when he thus defies the familiar conditions of gravity, it is something he can acquire, in his training as a Yogi. Though the former act unconsciously, and he changes his polarity at will, the same cause is made operative, and both produce an identical effect. There are certainly alternating changes of polarity going on in the bird while ascending or dropping, and a maintenance of the same polarity while sailing at any given altitude.