Queries from Australia
Theosophist, December, 1883
Replies by H.P.B. to several Queries from C. Rohner
Allow me to address you on a subject of vital importance to me in connection with Spiritualism and Spiritualistic phenomena, which have occurred to me during the last 15 years. I consider you above all persons with whom I have any acquaintance through the literature of Spiritualism competent to give me a final explanation of the phenomena which I am now going to submit to your critical judgment. I have of late got tired of the unsatisfactory and unprogressive state of what is termed Spiritualism, and seeing in Theosophy and Occultism a step in advance of our old movement, I wish you to be kind enough to tell me what the interpretation of my experiences is from an Occult or Theosophical point of view.
For this purpose I have enclosed an old lecture of mine, delivered in 1874, which you will find contains a passage or portion marked with brackets A—A; this is the First Query put to you, and in your kind answer you will point out to me where I have erred in my own attempts at explanation.
Second Query refers to a painful subject—an accident in my family —which I shall detail as briefly as possible. On 17th March, 1870, a boy of mine was accidentally thrown out of my buggy and he sustained fracture of the skull. When I picked up the child (4 years old) I found him bleeding from a branch of the temporal artery, and whilst I was dressing the wound on the road and in the dark, my mind involuntarily was turned homeward where my wife was lying ill and in a very weak state from loss of blood after her confinement. I thought that the news of the fatal injury of our child would also prove fatal to herself in consequence of the shock produced by the news. Fancy, then, my astonishment when I came home to find that at about the same time that this accident happened, I appeared to my wife spiritually or phantasmically (?) with the child in my arms, which fact she mentioned to her nurse, who, however, could not see me or my apparition. Now what do you make of this phenomenon and what is your explanation of it?
Third Query is connected with what I would consider a case of clairaudience which happened to me some 8 or 9 years ago. I had scarcely turned into bed at 11 o’clock on a certain night (date I cannot at present ascertain), when I found myself all night up to half-past 4 A.M. disturbed from sleep by the constant crying out of ‘doctor! doctor!’ in a distinctively plaintive tone, the voice being that of a female. At 6:30 the same morning I was called to attend a woman at a distance of 15 miles from my residence, a perfect stranger to me and to my astonishment her voice was identical with the one of my nocturnal disturber! The woman, having been in labour all night and crying out for the doctor—for me—her husband cruelly paying no attention to her lamentation until it was almost too late to send for medical aid. Now, I would ask you, how could I hear the voice of this woman a distance of 15 miles?
Fourth Query concerns a mesmeric subject or experience of mine which took place 14 years ago. A friend of mine, named Mr. Crone, who is a powerful mesmeriser, brought a boy to my surgery one night at 8 o’clock; and this boy told me the time on my watch to a minute correctly four times in succession, although his eyes were bandaged and he himself in a state of mesmeric coma. Three times the boy indicated the time on my watch correctly, even after I had turned the hands round with my key until I did not know myself to what figures they pointed.
Now these may very possibly be all simple questions to you to solve, but I have never in all my reading and studying on the subject found an explanation which satisfied my scientific or philosophical demands, really furnishing a tangible and reliable exposition of the different modi operandi by which the four above mentioned phenomena or facts were produced.
Hoping you will kindly answer my four queries in one of the numbers of The Theosophist. I am, etc.
C. Rohner, M.D.
Benalla, Victoria (Australia)
Editor’s Note. [H.P.B.]—We are extremely sorry to be unable to answer Query No. 1, owing to the lecture in question having been either lost in transit or mislaid here during our prolonged absence from home.
Query No. 2 is easy enough to answer from the standpoint of occultism. It is a case of thought objectifying itself by its intensity to the person on whom it is centered. The sad occurrence was reflected in the sympathetic aura of the suffering (hence more than ever spiritually receptive) lady and she saw it in her mind’s eye. We have amply discussed in previous numbers the phenomenal effects of thought intensified to the last degree, whether consciously through will-power or unconsciously through the strength of desire, produced by fear, joy or any other feeling. The ordinary phenomenon of the thoughts of the mesmeriser appearing to the subject as objective reality belongs to the same class though different in degree. The present case affords some light for the examination of the spiritualistic speculations of Mr. W. H. Harrison, editor of the defunct Spiritualist in a recent number of the Medium and Daybreak. After a free use of his dissecting knife on Theosophy and Colonel Olcott, Madame Blavatsky and the Himalayan Brothers, Mr. Harrison comes to the conclusion that the worthy President of the Theosophists, Colonel Olcott, is “a seeing medium and a physical medium too, but not very powerful in the latter capacity,” and seeks to prove his case by reminding the reader that since “once he (Colonel Olcott) saw a Himalayan Brother and two well-known Anglo-Indian Theosophists were unable to see the distinguished visitor”—ergo that visitor must have been some “lower intelligence acting on physical mediums.” On this rather one-sided and not over-logical theory, the apparition which Mrs. Rohner saw must have been made up by some “lower intelligence,” since the nurse did not see the eidolon. The consequences in the present case having been beneficent, however, the “lower intelligence” will have to be raised a few degrees in the estimation of the Spiritualists and regarded as some “dear departed angel” masquerading before the sensitive to save her from the effects of a too sudden shock. But whatever their theory—even if it be granted that in Dr. Rohner’s case the double was projected from the gross body by the force generated by intense anxiety—the obnoxious Theosophists, will never be allowed to take advantage of it in support of their case. Yet whatever their opinion, we affirm, that in our correspondent’s case there was nothing spiritualistic at all. It was simply and purely a psycho-physiological phenomenon.
Query No. 3 will be sufficiently elucidated by what has been said above. Our respected correspondent seems to be somewhat of a clairaudient sensitive himself; the agonised cries were directed towards him, and as the Doctor’s thought made itself objectively perceptible to Mrs. Rohner’s astral sense of sight, similarly the poor woman’s cries affected his sense of hearing. The one was a case of clairvoyance, the other of clairaudience.
Query No. 4.—This is a common case of clairvoyance induced by mesmerism. The physical man when rendered comatose by the influence of mesmeric currents, leaves the inner man free to act and acquire knowledge without the mediation of sense.
A careful study of what has been said in these columns about the septenary constitution of man will throw considerable light on the whole subject. These abnormal developments of sense may be effected by conscious efforts of the will, by disease or by mesmeric influence.