The Importance of Distinguishing Between What Bardon Expects and What He Says Is Possible
>> Both editions make it clear that the Step V trainee needs to master the condensation of the elements to the degree of physical tangibility - i.e. able to be observed by a non-initiate. <<
Well, that's not exactly true. :) Let me throw a few quotes from the Ruggeberg edition (which, in my opinion, is the best, least biased English translation) into the mix here.
"It is not absolutely necessary, in this step [i.e., Step 5], to bring about such an amount of physical warmth that it can be measured with a thermometer. But supposing a magician takes a keen interest in working in this more spectacular way, he can specialise himself in this problem with the help of these instructions. *The genuine magician however, will not be satisfied with such insignificant phenomenon, and rather prefer to further his own development, because he is firmly convinced that he an obtain much more, as time goes by.*" (p. 110)
In other words, pursuing the accumulation and projection of an Element to such a degree, *through the Step Five exercise*, is *contrary to the magician's further development*. In fact, such a desire *at this stage* may well point to a character imbalance.
"All the time he ought to feel the specific property of the element he is working with quite distinctly; he should be able to induce even a layman or ignorant people to see and feel the element in question." (p.114)
Notice how he says "should be able to" and not "must do". In other words, the *ability* and the magician's confidence are what matters here, not the factual demonstration. Nonetheless, if one has mastered the exercises up to that point, the ability to condense any Element to such a degree that another person can be *induced* to sense it, will be a natural result.
>> Bardon did on occasion discuss various abilities that a one-sided, unbalanced regimen of exercises would develop. However, his manner of writing is different in this section. Rather than describing possibilities, he's giving instructions as to how a student can test their level of mastery. <<
This section about lighting a wick is important but not as a test of one's magical abilities. Rather, it is a test of one's character development because it asks again the question of why one is pursuing initiation. By exposing what *can* be accomplished -- at a point in the training when to accomplish such a "spectacular" phenomenon would mean a diversion from the furtherance of their true development -- the student is faced with a choice: do I spend my time pursuing "insignificant phenomenon" or do I further my development? If the character of the student *needs* the sort of gratification derived from lighting a wick magically with the Fire Element, then at this point they will surely be diverted from forward progress while they spend the next several years perfecting their accumulation of the Fire Element. If, on the other hand, they do not have that need within their character, they will move forward and master future exercises which make such a feat look truly silly.
As Bardon wrote immediately after explaining the tricks with the lighting of wicks and cotton balls -- "The genuine magician will not waste his time with such dallying."
>> Yet I do reckon these exercises are important, if not necessarily a prerequisite for Step VI, then important in the long run, especially as the true keys to magick are based round mastery of the elements. <<
On page 115, Bardon wrote:
"Who would not be reminded of the wedding at Kanaa where our Lord did transform the water into wine? Only such a high adept as Jesus Christ did accomplish this miracle, *not by the influence of the elements from the outside, but by mastering the akasha-principle of the water being transformed from the inside*"
And further down the same page:
"I take it for granted that it will not enter anybody's mind to stick to single exercises and methods only. The result would be fateful to the health of the person and the success would never come. These facts have to be considered very carefully."
>> I remember Bill Mistele mentioning somewhere that he failed to master the basic condensation exercises to the degree that Bardon expected of his students. As a consequence, Bill has for many years continued to return to the basic exercises to try to master them to the extent that Bardon intended, but with greater obstacles in place than if he'd tried to master them fully the first time round. <<
Throughout IIH, the student will encounter points where accurately understanding what Bardon truly *expected*, is critical to their forward progress. What Bardon *expected* is frequently different than what Bardon mentioned as *possible*. :) I think the first instance where this occurs is in Step Two with the sensory concentration exercises. Many folks get caught up in trying to condense their visualization to such a degree that they appear before the *physical* eyes as ordinary objects would. Unfortunately, this is *not* what Bardon *expected* of the *Step Two* student. Likewise, Bardon did not *expect* that the *Step Five* student would be able to light a flame with the Fire Element, freeze water with the Water Element, levitate objects with the Air Element, etc.
When one misunderstands the difference between what is expected and what is possible, and therefore pursues the possible instead of mastering the expected, they are creating an imbalance. For example, in order to condense the Fire Element to such a degree as to succeed in the cotton ball experiment, one would have to focus exclusively upon the exercises of condensing the Fire Element for a *long* time. Such an extended time of working with that one exercise with the Fire Element will invariably induce a state of physical, astral and mental dis-equilibrium. On the other hand, if one were to master what is *expected* in Step Five and progress through the Steps, they will, in *less time than it would take pursuing the Step Five technique*, gain the ability to *cause a condensation* of the Fire Element sufficient to ignite an alcohol soaked cotton swab (if they desire to).
My best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
26 Aug 2004
>> It seems one's character is tested a) because the very *desire* to do the 'miracle' indicates a problem - perhaps impatience, <<
No, it's not a matter of impatience in such as case. Rather, it has to do with an egotistical need to show off and impress others which, of course, speaks of a deeper lack of self-worth. This need is one of the most detrimental to magical advancement. Remember the "Pillar of Silence" . . .
>> The reason I lay such stress on this is that it seems to me there is such an issue at *every* step of the training! For example, the making of elementaries. By the time one has mastered evocation, is the ability to make an elementary laboriously and slowly really so valuable? <<
Ah, but here you must learn how to make your own Elementaries and Elementals *before* you can learn the more advanced techniques of evocation.
>> Doesn't one continuously outstrip one's previous abilities and thus render what was very difficult previously extremely easy? <<
Yes, but some things *must* be mastered *first* in order to be *able* to master the next "higher" technique. For example, one *must* master the Elements before the Akasha and Fluids; otherwise, working with the Akasha and Fluids would be fruitless.
>> What I think now is that when *detailed instructions* are given, it is a sign that one must certainly do the work - even though later it might seem insignificant. But when Bardon mentions little effects such as these as an aside, and gives no specific further instructions, it is better to ignore the aside except as a curiosity, not to be pursued. Is this right? <<
Not exactly. For example, he gave very clear instructions concerning the lighting of the cotton swab. However, it was not presented in the form of an exercise and this can often serve as a clue. In most every case, he does say something like "but the true magician will not waste their time". Aside from considering these "clues", what I recommend above all else is that you meditate, very deeply about these issues when they arise. From almost the first page, Bardon repeatedly advises the student to meditate, meditate, meditate, and much of the book was written assuming that the student will actually meditate about every question that arises for them.
>> There is an element of temptation, it seems, to some of this. <<
Exactly, and that is the nature of most of the "tests". Bardon demands that you ask yourself "why am I doing this?", over and over again.
My best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
27 Aug 2004
>> A question for Rawn: you say that the visualisation of an object in step 2 hasn't got to be as clear as if it was physical? What degree is sufficient then? <<
The Step Two "*mental* exercise has nothing to do with the *physical* eyes. It's completely about the *mental* eyes and the ability to imagine any image you desire and to therefore "see" it with your *mind's eye*.
The open-eye part of the exercise is still about what you "see" in your *mind's eye*, while your physical eyes are open and simultaneously perceiving (i.e., *physically seeing*) your surroundings. Your *mental* focus is upon the image you are creating with your imagination *in your mind's eye* and your *physical eyes* are focused upon the point in space where you are imagining your object exists. For example, in your *mind's eye* you imagine a red ball hovering in the air one meter in front of you, and you simultaneously focus your *physical eyes* upon that spot one meter in front of you. Your *physical eyes* will *not* see a red ball but your *mind's eye* will imagine it hovering there as if it were a physical reality.
I suggest that you visit http://www.ABardonCompanion.com/Corresp-IIHPractice.html and read all the posts there about this exercise.
My best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
27 Aug 2004