Touch and its Overtones
Some significances attached to the sense of touch
By M.E. Haselhurst
Perhaps because this is an age conditioned to complexity, the simplicity of the sense of touch blinds men to its tremendous importance. On the lowest level, touch is a source of protection to the physical vehicle. By its means men can reach out, even in silence and darkness, to make contact with the world in which they live and to establish relationship between themselves and their fellows.
Touch is one of the five senses that are, in essence, the media whereby the Self or Thinker comes into contact with his environment. These senses serve to reveal the not self, enabling the indwelling Self to differentiate between the unreal and the real. Of these five senses of contact, the sense of touch was the second to be developed by humanity. It followed hearing and was succeeded by sight, taste and smell. The two latter are sometimes considered as minor senses, closely allied to the important sense of touch and, for all practical purposes, subsidiaries of it.
The three major senses are each definitely allied to, or aligned with one of the three Logoi. Touch, the second sense, has particular relationship to the second Logos, "who gathers the atoms into forms and by means of these forms gains the needed contact and develops full consciousness on the five planes of human development." (A Treatise on Cosmic Fire p. 143).
Touch is the innate recognition of contact through the exercise of manas or mind. It has a correspondence to the astral plane and is of outstanding importance in this, the second solar system, which is a system of astral-buddhic consciousness, characterised by emotion, feeling and sensation, which have eventually to be transmuted into intuition, spiritual perception and unity.
Touch, in common with other senses, has to be fully developed on all five planes of human evolution. There is deeply evocative significance in the corollaries of this sense on the subtler planes, particularly from the point of view of the disciple who is pledged to world service. These higher expressions range from psychometry and planetary psychometry, to healing on the buddhic plane, and active service at atmic level.
At first sight this appears to be an astonishing apotheosis. Reflection will reveal it as a process of orderly, very beautiful unfoldment, with some faint trace of future perfection evident in immediate achievements.
Consider the service that touch has rendered to human beings deprived of the other major senses, sight and hearing. By its means such people have been put into purposeful relationship with their world and with their fellows. They have been given entry to mankind's accumulated knowledge and have been enabled to join the community of thinking men and woman. This miracle is repeated on the higher planes. Disciples who have not developed spiritual hearing (clairaudience) or spiritual sight (clairvoyance) can learn to touch the subtle substance of higher worlds, and from such touch to achieve meaningful recognitions and establish the relationships necessary for further growth. This touching of the higher worlds is brought about through meditation and those who sometimes rebel at the apparently fruitless daily discipline involved in the practice of meditation would do well to ponder deeply on this subjective effect.
What is it that occurs in meditation? The Tibetan says quite clearly that it is a touching of matter of a quality rarer than that usually contacted. He elaborates this by adding:
"By dint of strenuous effort and due attention to rules laid down, the aspirant contacts his casual body: in time he contacts the matter of the buddhic plane. By means of this touch, his own vibration is temporarily and briefly quickened."
(A Treatise on Cosmic Fire p. 197).
There is nothing uncanny or frightening about this progressive extension of touch, through psychometry to healing and the final consummation of the work of the Self for the not-self as expressed in the concept of service at the atmic level. Just as a master musician can detect harmonies which would make no impression whatever on the untrained ear, so the individual who systematically practices meditation becomes aware of, puts himself in touch with, substance finer and more ethereal than the senses of untrained men can recognise. And just as wider knowledge in any sphere throws new light on old facts, and discloses relationships which were not at first apparent, so persistence in meditation leads to the recognition of spiritual potencies hitherto veiled by commonplace conditions and a realisation of widening, more inclusive, more universal concepts of the one truth which men call reality.
Revelation of Simplicity
One result of this is the revelation of simplicity. Truths which originally appeared to be isolated, separate and contradictory are revealed as fragmentary evidences of an underlying whole; as scenes from a picture not yet fully revealed. As this extension of awareness continues, it becomes possible to trace underlying patterns and to recognise the essential unity into which all diversity fits in due time, producing significance, order and beauty in place of the confused ugliness which ignorance perceives.
Touch, to the esotericist, is considered in terms of communication. He touches, manipulates, uses energy, thereby extending his areas of contact in all directions. Sitting quietly alone, or working with groups of like-minded people, his influence reaches out to touch lives which may be far removed from his physical existence, but are yet capable of responding to the vibrations emanating from him. The disciple's greatest problem is to keep open, despite all outerplane responsibilities, the channel of communication between the soul or the Spiritual Triad, when he can touch that higher consciousness, and the brain, via the mind, so that when the Master seeks to communicate, he can do so at once and easily. That which men call inspiration, the result of the touch of the soul, is entirely egoic. It utilises the mind as the medium of transmission to the brain of that which the soul knows.
Consider the very great range of touch, even in our human experience. When this is extended through the infinitely greater reaches which open as activity is lifted to the astral and mental levels, man discovers the science which is known as psychometry, the science of the soul of things. By its means the soul is put into touch with every aspect and quality of things. Any object in the hands of a trained and competent psychometrist, can be made to give up its history, to reveal its past and present surroundings and the story of those who have come into contact with it. All this is possible because psychometry is the science of sensing by touching the inner life which the form veils and hides.
This is a startling yet evocative concept, for psychometry is merely the first extension of the sense of physical touch. When consideration is lifted through the mental equivalent of this effort (known as planetary psychometry) which defies our present powers of imagination or vision, to the buddhic corollary of touch which is healing, man begins to perceive something of the urgent importance of rightly unfolding this sense on all planes. This linking of touch and healing also indicates the close affinity between the astral and buddhic planes and suggests some of the lines of enquiry which esoteric students might well follow in the effort to produce bodies capable of giving full expression to the ensouling life. To the esotericist it seems highly probable that, in the foreseeable future, psychometry will play a quite major part in the diagnosis of disease. By its use it will become possible to indicate the particular channels along which healing energies should be directed in specific situations, and the balance which needs to be achieved between different energies.
Any endeavour to acquire even elementary skill in translating touch into its higher expressions calls for limitless patience. As it is stated in the little book, "practical Psychometry" by O. Hashnu Hara, (p.35):
"The finer senses cannot be dominated in a moment, but call for gradual unfoldment. The necessary condition of passivity is not easy to acquire, for it necessitates a positive mental attitude towards material objects, so that you are able to repel all material thoughts and at the same time hold a receptive and negative attitude towards spiritual objectives, so that you attract the vibrations of spirit and become en rapport with the 'Spiritual Self' and so able to receive its communications."
Touch and Service
Herein lies a clue as to the connection between touch and service. Touch enables man to penetrate to the essence, the life, by means of due recognition of the veiling sheath. As the Tibetan points out, this sense enables the Thinker or Self to become en rapport with the essence of all selves at all stages, an awareness which makes possible the vital service of aiding in the due evolution of the sheaths, whilst at the same time entering into creative contact with the ensouling life.
A further link may be found in the statement that a Lord of Compassion is one who, by means of touch, feels with, fully comprehends and realises the manner in which to heal and correct the inadequacies of the not-self and thus actively to serve the plan of evolution.
It is a fact of common experience that man best serves his fellows when his life flows out in living touch or contacts with them. This is touch as it finds its apotheosis on the atmic plane, the highest level to the human comprehension can possibly stretch. Having been stretched to these imponderable heights, having soaked into self something of the aroma of these far regions, the elastic mind must needs snap back to human level, finding service expression by means of the physical brain. The creative core of this returning lies in the word "impersonality". Service is rendered in the essential atmosphere of the atmic experience when it is impersonal, wisely designed to meet existent need and so planned that the recipients play an active part in the service project. " Not what we give but what we share" is much more than a poetic exposition of the ideal service. The simple words provide a ladder whereby man's imagination can climb from one level of comprehension to another, finding on the way further links between touch as one of mankind's sense tools and service as an expression of divine realisation.
Service, in common with most forms of human activity, carries within itself the incipient danger of becoming formalised, stereotyped, habitual. To avoid this pitfall, effort must be always from soul level, no matter how humble the outer action may be. Realising that the soul acts in and through the personality and recognising that the soul is group-conscious, it is perceived that service lies in allowing the Self to flow into the common life in shining, steady streams of which are dramatic but not enduring.
The whole field of the higher correspondences of the sense of touch lies wide open for esoteric research. Certain hints are available, though not obvious. There are some clues, if diligent search is made, which offer direction and suggest methods. Moreover, students have the opportunity, by right thought and living of a soul-directed life, to unfold the spiritual capacity which such effort will demand. Given the will to experiment, experience should multiply and the capacity rightly to interpret and express should in crease. Eventually it should become possible to trace the process whereby the sense of touch is transmuted into those divine contacts which epitomise the work of the Self for the not-self, contacts which, for want of a better word, are designated as service.
It is appropriate to remember that true service, in our present connotation of the word, has been described as the effect of a man's being what he truly is, a divine Son of God. As such, he touches other lives and so doing serves the divine plan by drawing into creative expression the divinity which lies at the centre of each human life. Herein lies the very crux of discipleship service. Man touches, whether physically or by emotional or mental contact, and by that touch releases the life of God into the life of man.
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