In their final conversation Bombast and Flitterflop are reunited with 'M', who once again sheds a clarifying light on their meditations
PART TWELVE of Astral Conversations—an unusual series of investigations into the occult with a humorous twist.
Joshua Bombast and Arthur Flitterflop have come a very long way since we first encountered them arguing about the Masters. Although our two colourful occult students are fictional characters both are based on real individuals we have known, who have to pass through many stages before they obtain the smallest glimmer of Light on the narrow path that begins in ignorance and ends in knowledge.
These stages include doubt, superstition, scepticism, gullibility, dogma and fanaticism; every one of which has to be fought and overcome before the Light is reached. We may regard these as so many steps in a long process of purification during which the mind is gradually swept clean of all erroneous ideas and misconceptions, many of which Bombast and Flitterflop have discussed during their previous eleven conversations.
In this final article, that process reaches its culmination, but this does not mean there is nothing further for our two friends to learn, nor that they have turned over every stone in their investigations of the illusions, errors and obstacles which beset the seeker after Truth. That would require several large books and still not cover all the ground. If they have succeeded in dispelling even a few of the delusions which lead so many seekers away from Truth their efforts will not have been in vain.
BOMBAST: "Have you recovered from our encounter with the black magician?"
FLITTERFLOP: "Not entirely, no. I've never been so frightened in all my life."
BOMBAST: "That's why you were in danger and I wasn't."
FLITTERFLOP: "Is fear so great an evil?"
BOMBAST: "One of the greatest."
BOMBAST: "Because it paralyses every higher aspiration. A person who gives way to fear is like a prisoner behind iron bars of his own making through which the light of faith, hope and courage cannot pass. Not only is he completely helpless, but those who might help him are powerless to come to his aid so long as he dwells within his self-made prison."
FLITTERFLOP: "Weren't you even a little afraid?"
BOMBAST: "Of course, but not enough to undermine my faith in the power of the Light and the protection we were under."
FLITTERFLOP: "We were being protected?"
BOMBAST: (smiling): "Of course. Do you seriously think I would have exposed us to such dangers if we were not under M's protection the whole time?"
FLITTERFLOP: "What if he hadn't come to our rescue?"
BOMBAST: "Someone else would."
FLITTERFLOP: "What if they hadn't? Would we have died? Where would we have gone?"
BOMBAST (with mock impatience): "You're a persistent pest aren't you?"
FLITTERFLOP (wryly): "It's one of my few virtues."
BOMBAST: "Well, if you would be so kind as to go into the kitchen and put the kettle on your curiosity may be satisfied."
(Intrigued, Flitterflop rose from his chair and walked into the kitchen. Moments later he uttered a stifled exclamation and returned rather sheepishly followed by the smiling figure of 'M' carrying a tray laden with three cups, a teapot, milk jug and bowl of sugar.)
M: "I'm afraid you'll have to make do with teabags as the loose tea has unaccountably disappeared."
BOMBAST (mischievously): "I had no idea we had astral mice in the house."
M: "I rather suspect it was just one large 'mouse' who made off with the loose tea, isn't that so Flitterflop?"
FLITTERFLOP (abashed): "Er. . .um. . .well, I may have done a few experimental tea leaf readings, purely for research purposes you understand. . ."
M: (seating himself opposite the two friends): "And what did you conclude?"
FLITTERFLOP: "That I was wasting my time!"
BOMBAST (sipping from his cup with less than usual satisfaction): "Not to mention wasting rather good tea."
FLITTERFLOP: "If you must know I was trying to find out what happens to us when our astral bodies are destroyed."
BOMBAST: "From tea leaves? You never learn, do you?"
M: "Smugness, my dear Bombast, is a considerably greater infirmity than foolishness. For even fools may become wise in time, but pride has no such limitations. Moreover, pride displays a complete lack of intelligence and appreciation of the benevolence of the Gods. For it is only They who can bestow that Wisdom of which man, in his stupidity, is so proud."
BOMBAST (contritely): "I spoke without thinking; I'm sorry."
M: "Something we are all guilty of from time to time. Let us say no more about it and consider Flitterflop's questions instead for then we may all learn something to our advantage. If you think back to one of our earlier conversations you'll recall that after the death of the body the Higher Self returns home, wherever home may be, and continues its real life in either a higher or lower realm. So, had the black magician succeeded in destroying your astral bodies you would have found yourselves back 'home' in another body, for as you both know there is no such thing as 'death' anywhere in the Universe, only change.
"Bombast could have told you this, but I suspect the reason he did not do so is because the subject of 'bodies' is an extremely intricate and complex one about which more nonsense has been written than almost any other occult subject. We hear of 'etheric doubles', 'astral bodies', 'mental bodies', 'Buddhic bodies', and the Lord help us, 'energy bodies' and even 'emotional bodies'. I will add another one to the list and call it 'busy bodies'. It is due to the speculations of generations of psychics who saw things they only partially understood and the ignorant busybodies who ape them that all this mystical mumbo-jumbo about 'bodies' has come about. It is past time that the whole edifice of misconceptions about such non-existent bodies was demolished, for genuine seekers after Truth would be far better off without it."
FLITTERFLOP: "What is the truth about the astral body, dear M?"
M: "That there are two, and only two Principles involved in all manifestation at every level of existence, namely Mind and body. It does not matter whether we call one spiritual or the other material, what matters is that Mind requires a body of some sort in order to manifest in the material world. I use the term 'astral' to refer to the bodies we inhabit here for want of a better word. The physical body is no less 'astral' than any other; the word simply means 'starry'. All bodies are composed of different states of the same primordial 'astral' substance, the only difference between them is one of degree, not of kind. In short, wherever the Mind may dwell after death, or during so-called 'astral projection', it will dwell in a body appropriate to the conditions it finds itself in. The higher it ascends in the scale of Being, the finer the body it has, and the reverse applies if it descends into the lower realms. To give these bodies different names is akin to giving ourselves new names each time we change into another suit of clothes! Moreover, as there are no such things as 'energy' or 'emotional' bodies, those who imagine they can be 'blocked' are sadly deluded, whilst those who seek to make a jolly good living out of clearing so-called 'blockages' are charlatans of the deepest dye, whether they realise this or not."
FLITTERFLOP: "Talking of change, I've noticed it's possible to change things in this part of the astral world in ways that aren't possible on earth. The other day I managed to change the colour of the flowers in our garden and make them twice as big. Why is that possible here and not on earth"
M: "It is possible on earth too, but this requires abilities only the very greatest of Adepts possess. The reason it is easier to accomplish here is because the matter of the astral world is of a different density to the matter we are familiar with on earth and responds more readily to the mental powers of the magician."
FLITTERFLOP: "Does that mean things in the astral world are less real than they are on earth?"
BOMBAST (putting down his cup with a grimace): "This tasteless brew seems real enough to me. It's a pity you didn't change the tea!"
FLITTERFLOP: "How do you know I didn't?"
BOMBAST: "Because you're far too decent to do such a thing."
FLITTERFLOP (laughing): "But seriously, what is the difference M?"
M: "Very little. This part of the astral world lies very close to the physical plane. Which is why conditions here are almost identical to those on earth. As I explained just now, all material things are composed of different states of the same substance. The finer it is the less rigid are the material forms our minds behold and the more readily they are subject to change. On earth change is gradual, owing to the greater density of the matter of which that realm is composed. Here the appearance of things may change in the twinkling of an eye——Behold!"
(M waved his hand, and Flitterflop gasped in delighted astonishment as the walls of their room vanished, to be replaced by a rolling meadow in which they found themselves seated on a grassy bank beside their smiling teacher. Nearby, the shining cups of turquoise lotus flowers rose up on golden stems from the surface of a shimmering pool as if in silent prayer to the Sun that beamed upon them from the azure dome of heaven.)
Tuco Amalfi — Detail from A Place in the Heart — acrylic on canvas, 2008
FLITTERFLOP: "This is a change for the better! But this bank on which we are sitting seems just as solid as the armchairs in the room we were in before. How is that possible?"
M: "I said rigid, not solid. Things in the astral world are just as solid to the dwellers there as they are on earth, but lack the rigidity of matter in its coarser state. (As Flitterflop continued to look puzzled, M added): Just as clay is less rigid than the bricks it can be made into, so too is the matter of the finer realms less resistant to being moulded into different forms."
BOMBAST: "Do you mean that material forms are not real or that we do not see them as they really are?"
M: "Both. All forms are illusions, for they are subject to continual change, and that which changes cannot be said to be real, as Hermes tells us in The Divine Pymander."
FLITTERFLOP: "What then is real?"
M: "That which does not change. All that transforms itself is illusive, not only in itself, but by the appearances which it presents to our senses."
BOMBAST: "By that token we are not real either and neither was the black magician who threatened us."
M: "This is true, my friend. The real consists solely in itself, and remains what it is. Man is composed of manifold Principles, only one of which—the Divine Soul—remains ever the same. That alone is real in Man, all else an illusion. Had you truly known this you could have dispersed the illusion of the sorcerer and his acolytes as easily as I did."
BOMBAST: "What, then, is the fundamental Reality?"
M: "The One Source, One Life, or One Hidden and Unknowable Supreme Deity; although IT has no existence. From IT all springs, without diminishing IT, and to IT all returns, without adding to IT, when it has done with the Illusions of Being and having Existence. This is the One Truth, and there is none other. Yet, in that inconceivable non-existence and non-being lies hidden such an Ineffable Glory that Man would be truly equal to the One Deity, or the One Life, if his mind could attune with that Divine State and fully understand it."
FLITTERFLOP: "This is very deep and hard to understand."
M (his eyes twinkling with amusement): "Would you expect the Mysteries of God to be shallow and easily comprehended, my friend?"
BOMBAST(chuckling): "The scientists seem to think so."
M: "Which is why they continue to go round in circles, turning over the mud of materialism without ever discovering a single nugget of truth. Each has built up in his mind a picture of the Universe as they see it. But it is only a picture which has no existence any more than any other things they imagine or see with the eyes of their earthly minds, or with their physical eyes, have any actual existence. The moment they create the attributes, mental and physical, of their various theories about the Universe these attributes are doomed to fade out and cease to be; for they existed only in their imaginations. It is the same with the Grand Imaginations of the Holy Creators, reflected in the mind of man by the medium of the Great Mirror of Nature.
"It is the same imagination, but on an infinitely higher scale, and seemingly eternal in its effects; still, it is imagination or creative imaging from the Mind of the Hidden Logos, which is the First Emanation of the Supreme and unknowable Deity, and of the Sons of Light: the Self-born Progeny of the Hidden Logos. They are His Viceroys, called the Creators, and the imaginative imaging of these Lords of Life is based upon the prototypes of all material things and beings 'existing' in the Light of the Higher Worlds or Planes of 'Being.' These creations are given imaginary existence by that faculty of Man (and to an extent of all sentient beings) which enables Man to reflect back to Nature, from his own mind, that which he believes he observes in Nature. Just as you both believe we are now ensconced in this delightful spot having this conversation, whereas previously we seemed to be elsewhere drinking tea."
FLITTERFLOP: "I'd forgotten about the tea! Where did it go?"
M: "It went the way of all illusions, my young friend, so soon as you stopped thinking about it. By giving it this imaginary existence you added to its longevity but at the same time doomed it to fade out like a mirage in the end—as you were meant to do. Remember also that Man, or any other being, can only reflect those Thoughts of the Gods with which his state of inner evolution allows and enables him to attune. The lowest evolved can only reflect as in a dream the images and imagings of their own kind. Those a little higher evolved may reflect some of the material aspects of Nature which attract their animal instincts and needs; and so on . . . . until we find the highest evolved Man who can reflect the Thoughts of the Gods themselves in almost all their Sublimity.
"In some such way Man might reflect the Thoughts of the Creators; but these thoughts are still reflections, no matter how elevated their Order; and though they seem to exist, they are not! And if they were they could not exist! If you apply these and similar ideas to Reality, Space, Time, Eternity, Existence and God by means of your own meditations; it may be that it will help you to understand what I am trying to convey."
FLITTERFLOP (sighing): "Yet we all seem so very real!"
M (smilingly): "If you place the emphasis on 'seems' rather than 'very,' you will be nearer the truth, my friend."
(As they had been talking, the atmosphere around them had taken on an additional radiance and vitality which could be seen in the soft glow that now emanated from the plants and flowers which covered the grassy bank upon which they were seated. They sky above their heads was subtly different too. The deep blue of a summer's day was now transformed into a pale, golden hue in which there seemed to float millions of tiny, bright specks of light, darting hither and thither on their mysterious errands. Bombast was the first to notice this change when, on stroking the soft petals of a daisy growing near him, it exuded a delightful perfume no earthly member of this humble family of plants had ever emitted.
Before he could ask M what this mysterious change portended, a gorgeous dragonfly zoomed into view and hovered before his entranced gaze. It was much larger than any insect he had ever seen before and its gossamer wings shone out in all the colours of the rainbow, as if a careless jeweller had dusted them with precious gems. No sooner had Flitterflop stretched out his hand towards it, than to his everlasting delight, it alighted upon his open palm. There it sat, its ruby eyes fixed upon his own while its wings trembled with pleasure. No words can describe the jewelled thoughts which passed between them in which each shared their mutual love and reverence for the Creators who had made them. Flitterflop's heart overflowed with joy as his mind blended with that of the dragonfly in sudden realization of the Love and Oneness of God. Tears welled up in his eyes in silent gratitude and rolled slowly down his cheeks.)
FLITTERFLOP: "Oh, how lovely! Surely we must have passed into Heaven while we were talking!"
M: "This is not heaven, my friend, but only the outer court of it to which those who have earned such blessings are translated after death."
BOMBAST (looking about him in amazement): "How ever did we get here? Wherever 'here' is."
M: "Are you both sure you are here?"
FLITTERFLOP (astonished): "Are we not?"
M: "Be patient, my dear friends. The clue lies in the words of the God-like Poet Milton, who wrote, 'the mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heav'n of hell, a hell of heav'n'. Rest assured, the meaning of this will become clear in time."
FLITTERFLOP: "But we haven't moved from this spot the whole time you've been with us. How it is possible we got here without passing through something or other?"
M (chuckling softly): "You mean a barrier of some kind? Virgil's River Styx perhaps, Dante's 'dark wood', or the famous 'dark tunnel' many of those who have had 'out of the body' experiences have reported passing through? I'm afraid that all such barriers are simply illusions of the senses. Without them the transition from one state of consciousness to another would be even more bewildering and uncomfortable than it is for the average man or woman. There are divisions between the planes of the astral world, which are also states of consciousness, but the form they take depends upon the state of evolution of the mind of the beholder. Some will see a river, some a wall such as the 'Al-A'raf' of the Muslims which divides 'heaven' from 'hell' in the Koran. Such barriers seem very real indeed to the mind which encounters them, as we may read in the after-death experience of the British monk Drithelm, recorded by the Venerable Bede. But to the Initiate such barriers present no obstacle, for he has earned the freedom to enter any region of the astral world to which his inner state of evolution entitles him."
FLITTERFLOP: "So it's only ourselves which prevent us from beholding the wonders in which we are now immersed?"
M: "This is true. But it's not easy for the Mind to accomplish this so long as it dwells in the flesh and clings to material things and desires. For unless a man is holy and good, pure and merciful, he cannot behold the higher realms, for his Mind is closed to the Light and he cannot hear the voice of his Soul. But once the Mind hears, the Soul's presence will manifest in many wonderful ways, and before such enlightened individuals give up their bodies they will know the senses that operate them for what they are—Illusion. That condition may be reached in many ways, such as the doing of good deeds and attuning in thought with Beauty, Truth and Wisdom, or through spiritual exercises under the guidance of a true Master of the Mysteries. It cannot be attained by mere words, wishful thinking and self-indulgence. The understanding of it will come gradually to those who are tolerant, patient and strive unselfishly. Thus it is possible to attain to any region the mind aspires to in time."
BOMBAST (thoughtfully): "I think I see now what Milton meant."
M (his eyes twinkling with merriment): "Did I not tell you that all would become clear in time?"
FLITTERFLOP: "It seems to me that time is the one thing people are not prepared to spend to obtain enlightenment; they all want it in five minutes."
M: "That is because Time is not what men think it is, any more than Space. To think that Time moves forward or backward, or can be 'wasted,' is just as great an error as thinking that Space has Dimensions. All material things move within Space and Time, but both are for ever invisible to mortal eyes. In reality Space has no dimensions and Time does not move. Even the thought which connects the term 'Eternity' with Time is wrong; for it implies another Principle in connection with moving Time; and a 'principle' implies a beginning and an end. There must have been—according to this thought—a moment when Eternity commenced as a Principle; but, as nothing that humans can conceive endures, the Principle must wear out and cease to exist in the end. Time and Space in order to BE—cannot exist in the manner imagined by mankind any more than Light and Darkness exist in the manner they are imagined to be. As I said earlier, all we behold as men is an illusion. If mankind could truly know—in its human and earthly form, and with the use of its earthly intellect—the true nature of Time and Space mankind would be the equal of the One Supreme Deity, the One Life, the Divine Source of all that is and is not but seems to be; and as such it would be immeasurably wiser than the Lords of Heaven—the Creators—themselves."
(As M was speaking, the dragonfly, who had been listening attentively to his wise discourse, spread its wings and flew away, perhaps to muse in solitude upon the mysteries of Time and Space. Flitterflop sighed deeply as he watched that marvellous messenger soar heavenwards until it was lost in the vast empyrean above them. All around there were azaleas and rhododendrons in full bloom, their pink and deep red flowers making a curtain that cascaded to the emerald green grassy sward from which smiling buttercups and daisies peeped shyly forth, their heads tilted to one side, as if they too, were listening. The air was filled with their mingled scents, never inhaled on darkling earth, for here they showed their true forms and attributes, the heavenly prototypes of their shadowy selves which dwelt below. Further in the distance could be seen wooded glades and stately groves of Oak—symbol of the Sun of Righteousness—and soaring pines that point the way homeward to the weary children of earth. And here and there were silvery streams running into azure pools, upon which floated stately swans, surrounded by water-lilies, and other plants with lovely flowers and leaves which filled the soul with bliss. Far away they heard the glad trumpeting of an elephant, revelling in his new found freedom from the merciless predators which beset his kindred on earth, the most cruel of which is lowly man.)
BOMBAST: "How may we best attain to this heavenly place?"
M: "There are as many ways to Heaven as there have been, are, and will be human beings, provided they sincerely wish for this divine felicity. The best a man can do is to thank the Higher Powers for the good things they have bestowed upon him; to be patient in all adversity; to ask for forgiveness when he has erred and offended against the Laws of Nature in some way, and to remember that however far he may go astray, help will always be sent to lift him up again; for the Gods are terribly patient. By avoiding evil to the best of his ability, he will keep the mirror of his heart clean, and the ever-loving Sons of Light will do the rest; for they understand: having once been frail men themselves."
FLITTERFLOP (musingly): "This is an awesome thought."
M: "But a very true one, my young friend. If mankind would only realise this truth they would strive with all their might and main to rise to all that is good, loving, and merciful. Then the world would at once be transformed into a Paradise such as we behold around us here, and the human wolves, jackals and tigers which now abound would lay themselves down by the side of the meek and lowly, and turn their ferocious will to the purpose of helping their Brethren instead of destroying them."
BOMBAST: "Will this ever happen?"
M: "The Great Message has rung forth many times, and those who have listened have been saved. It is the newcomers, who have but lately evolved from the Shadows, who must ever be taught anew. The true Teachings should never cease; nor would they if all men were always ready to receive them, but all have to learn their lessons in the hard school of the material before they can ascend to the spiritual.
"And now, my dear friends, our glimpse of the reward that awaits all sincere seekers after Light is ended and you must return to your physical bodies, for there is much work awaiting you among your brothers and sisters on earth. Many only need a cooling hand upon their brow or a word of kindness to open their eyes and see."
FLITTERFLOP (with tears in his eyes): "We will surely try."
BOMBAST: "Indeed we shall. Though I fear it will continue to be as hard as pushing water uphill with a rake. Despite our best efforts the little cliques of would-be shamans, prophets of 'ascension' and makers of YouTube videos claiming to reveal awesome 'secrets' grow ever larger."
M: "That is only to be expected, my friends. It has ever been thus. The One Light of Truth for the few, its fantastic shadow for the many. Yet does the shadow serve a holy purpose, unbeknown to those who shelter in its dark embrace, for without it the Light could neither be seen nor recognised."
FLITTERFLOP: "This is a hard truth to grasp."
M: "But a vital one. And now I have a few final words to say to you both. Always seek only for the best, both in yourselves and others, strive only for the best in all that you think and do. Do not be beguiled by the pretenders to Wisdom whose circumlocutious jargon is a cloak for the emptiness of their vapid minds. Above all, distrust worldly knowledge and the seductions of the senses, the lust for power or riches, and the blast of spiritual vanity: for they are all as nothing and must fade away like phantoms in the Light of God's everlasting inner Sun. Good-bye, my friends, be not downcast, for we shall surely meet again."
(Bombast and Flitterflop sighed deeply as they watched M's tall figure slowly dissolve in the light of the radiant Sun of that blessed spot, taking comfort from the knowledge that there is no real separation between true affinities in God's Universe, though it seems so for the poor unfortunates who are parted for a time. Nor would they ever forget M's kindly voice and wise teachings.)
Is this the last we shall hear from Bombast and Flitterflop? We should like to think that we will meet them again, though we cannot say when or how this may come to pass.
Meanwhile, we wish them and you, dear reader, God's speed on the path to the Light and the courage and patience to walk it whatever obstacles or distractions you may encounter along the way.
If you have enjoyed this article you may also like Bombast and Flitterflop's previous conversation in which they investigate the dangerous fascination with magical evocation.
You can find a full list of all twelve Astral conversations on our home page.
© Copyright occult-mysteries.org. Article added 13 January 2017.