In New York Vitvan took lodging in Greenwich Village.
"The year was 1918. The United States was enmeshed in the grim business of World War I. I soon had a full schedule. I lectured almost nightly and I had two small classes. During the days I volunteered part of my time to the Red Cross. I rolled bandages, loaded boxes for shipment overseas, and on occasion drove an ambulance transporting the wounded from incoming ships. I was also actively involved in healing practice.
"On one occasion, two reporters from New York newspapers were sent to interview me. They sat through an evening lecture and afterwards they came to my rooms to talk. The three of us had a delightful time and enjoyed our conversation until the early hours of morning. They were both intelligent young men and they asked me sensible and pertinent questions. We talked about the etiology of healing and about my lecture that evening.
"I had spoken on the discipline of Auming. I had explained several techniques, including the 'back Aum.' This particular Aum is done by retaining several deep breaths, then contracting the diaphragm, forcing the air toward the back. The air is expelled in short bursts, sometimes accompanied by striking the lower back. The idea is to hit the vocal chords with hammer-like jolts of air, producing a high-pitched and intense sound. Because the air is 'stored' at the back, the area from which a dog controls his barking, it is sometimes called the 'dog Aum.'
"I explained the purpose and intent of the back Aum and then we got into a lively discussion of healing techniques. Their interest seemed genuine and I was inspired to a full elaboration of configurational man and the creating process in which he participates. I emphasized the structure, function and order of the individualized autonomous field and explained that the configuration (body) is a representation of the state of conscious awareness within the field. Therefore, the identities to which it is polarized are determinative to its function or malfunction.
"When they left I felt a sense of real accomplishment. I had been in New York less than three months and already I had found a channel to disseminate some of the fundamental principles of the Gnosis to several million people!
"The next morning I scanned the newspapers for an account of my proselytizing. One article was entitled, 'Mystery Man of Greenwich Village Heals with Strange Power.' It was fabrication of outrageous proportions, complete with hocus-pocus incantations, magic potions, etc.--absolute absurdity. The second interview was headlined, 'Philosopher Teaches Bow-Wow.' Need I say more? That was almost fifty years ago and I have shunned journalistic interviews ever since.
"However, I was grateful for one aspect of the evening. It allowed me to get the right perspective on my work as a healer. One of the young men had asked me a series of questions that I had not answered to my own satisfaction.
"'By what right do you heal others?' he had asked. 'And if, as you maintain, all illness is a kind of psychosomatic manifestation, what good does it do to heal the effect and leave the cause unremedied? And what is to prevent the illness from returning?'
"I took those questions to heart and pursued them in my meditations. The answers I received were disquieting. I had no right to heal anyone unless specifically asked to do so. And then, only if I could bring the person in need to a full understanding of the underlying cause within the psychic nature from whence the discord emanated. Otherwise cure was temporary, even if it persisted for a lifetime.
"I felt chastised and chagrined, because I remembered Mozumdar saying that Initiates newly awakened to Mind level are born there as children are born on the configurational plane. They must learn to master that state, even as the child must master the objective world to become functional there. It is particularly difficult for the newly awakened one to discipline himself in the judicial use of the power now available to him. The mind lacks mature discrimination. Judgment is clouded by sentiment. Compassion rushes in where wisdom would refrain.(1) Mozumdar had likened the artless use of the powers to babies newly discovering their toes.
"'What marvelous playthings! How extraordinary to see them work! But eventually the foot ends up in the mouth.'
"Since that time I have never used the healing technique unless the recipient was willing and capable of fulfilling the requirement of understanding. The single exception, of course, being children who cannot be expected to grasp such things."
Vitvan remained in New York for almost four years. He headquartered in Greenwich Village and established a lecture itinerary up and down the East Coast, carrying him as far south as Florida and into the neighboring southern states.
In the early spring of 1920, after a series of lectures in Charlottesville, North Carolina, Vitvan elected to take a two week sabbatical to finish a book he was working on. A student he had met there owned a cabin a few miles outside of Boone, North Carolina. Vitvan gratefully accepted use of it and was driven down. Some few days after his arrival he experienced the Third Initiation and was brought into awareness of the Seven Rays of Development. ( See Vitvan's essay on Seven Rays of Development) He was taken out of body and into the company of the Elder Ones of the Inner Order.
He wrote of the event later, saying, "The name of the mountain on which the cabin was built was called Grandfather Mountain. It was appropriately named, for on that particular night I was in the presence of several grandfathers of the whole human race.
"I was given to see the Seven Rays and allowed to select which Ray I would serve upon. The compassion I felt as I viewed mankind's aeonian past and was made cognizant of his great struggle on the palingenetic cycle of emerging consciousness, overwhelmed me. I chose then to serve mankind's attainment, although to do so is to accept continuous and recurrent incarnation. When that choice is made it is final--one is bound to his decision. No other path would ever be open to me.
"Many years have passed since that night and I can honestly say that I have never regretted my decision. However, were I to be allowed the same choice now, I might choose differently."
Toward the end of the year 1921, Vitvan decided to return to California.
"My decision," he writes with good humor, "was prompted more by consideration for climate than any other reason. At least there, several could gather together in His name all year long and the elements would not conspire against it."
A few months before he was to leave he attended a formal dinner in New York. His comments in regard to attainment and further speculation on America's destiny provide thoughtful reading:
"I had been in New York City about four years. I had some standing as a teacher and consequently quite a large circle of acquaintances. One morning I received in the mail a formal invitation to attend a rather swank get-together in honor of an important Zen Buddhist teacher--the kind of function I have since learned to avoid with considerable expertise. However, at the time my exuberance was almost unmanageable. I rushed out to meet teachers whenever I had the opportunity. I rarely encountered authentic ones, but on those occasions that it happened, I felt more than compensated for my efforts. It was the usual gathering: sincere students, dilettantes and perennial curiosity seekers.
"The guest of honor, however, was a lovely man: spontaneously intelligent and very simply profound. One whom Zen would call a 'Wisely Foolish One.' I responded immediately to the high level of his attainment, hidden so carefully beneath the veneer of his personableness. I wanted very much to speak with him. Finally there came a moment when he stood alone and I approached him. He recognized me as a brother and we spoke without restraint. I asked him how long he had been in this country.
"He replied, 'Seventeen years.'
"I asked eagerly, 'How many have you found?' (Meaning, of course, how many have you taken through to the higher consciousness of the Christos power.)
"His face beamed with delight. He held up one finger and smiled broadly. 'I have found one,' he said. 'I have found one, sir!'
"His pleasure was so evident that I dared not comment. I only nodded my head and smiled. But I was thunderstruck!
"'One,' I thought. 'He has been here 17 years and he has only found one. Great Nellie! What has been the trouble with him? Why, in 17 years I will see thousands to attainment!'
"I laugh now, but at the time that is exactly what I thought. Well, I have been a teacher now for almost 40 years and do you know how many I have found? Six. Yes, six. And I am so grateful that I could jump up and down and shout my gratitude to the heavens. But in between jumping up and down I can only ask Life and that dear old Buddhist to forgive the presumption of a foolish young man. He is older now and wiser.
"And I will tell you something further. In the entire history of our beloved country from its founding until the present date (1950), there have been 75 at most who have experienced this highest realization. Does that astound you? Does it substantiate what you have always guessed about the spiritual backwardness of your country? Don't be foolish. Man is young. Few have found their way through the corridor of conceit to enlightenment, anywhere, anytime. But the number who have attained to that Universal Consciousness, or Christ consciousness, or Kundalini consciousness, or whatever, here in this country is equal to any number who have reached a like attainment during the same period of time any place else in the world.
"It has been a slow, slow business, this evolution of consciousness. It is only now, as the Piscean Age draws to its close and the cyclic forces determinative to the Dawn of a New Age are galvanized into activity, that we will begin to see in the next quarter of a century great numbers hastened to a new birth on the higher levels of consciousness. In this country it will herald the beginning of a golden age. America will be recognized for her spiritual achievements and confirmed as the New India."
next Chapter 10
(1) Two novels, The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis and Zanoni by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, exaggerate through the medium of fiction the awful results that might occur if super-normal powers were motivated by sentiment or personal attachment. In the 25th chapter of The Last Temptation of Christ Kazantzakis relates the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Jesus, empowered beyond his capacity to discriminate, is moved by the lamentations of Martha and Mary to commit an act of horrifying consequence. Zanoni is the story of two Fourth Degree Initiates. Mejnour, the ageless one, is centered and secure in the impersonal life --- aloof from those around him. Zanoni, a recent Initiate, is unable to resist personal involvement and the random use of his newly acquired powers. Thus he sows the seeds of his own destruction.