Reply by H. P. Blavatsky
Can any of the numerous readers of the Theosophist enlighten me as to the influence that acted on me on the occasion alluded to below? I certainly emphatically deny that there was a spirit manifestation, but there was beyond doubt some singular agency at work, which I have not up to this time been able to comprehend or explain.
After having been in a certain school with another boy of about the same age as myself we parted, and only met again after the lapse of about thirty-five years. It was at Agra, where he was a Deputy Collector and I, head-clerk in the same office. Our friendship was renewed, and we soon became very much attached to each other; in fact, we had no secrets between us. Thus we continued to be for several years, and almost every day saw each other. I had occasion during the Dasara Holidays to visit my brother-in-law, an opulent land-holder at Meerut, and on my return related to my friend the festivities that had been observed there. My friend promised that, if he could possibly manage, he would also accompany me to my brother-in-law's at the next Dasara vacation. In the interval, and particularly when the vacation approached, we repeatedly discussed our plans, and when the time drew near we made all arrangements for fulfilling our engagement. But on the last working day in the office when I asked my friend to meet me that evening at the appointed time at the railway station with his luggage, to my utter astonishment and disappointment he told me that he was very sorry for being unable to go with me in consequence of his family having been recommended for a change, and he was going with them to Rambagh (a sanitarium on the other side of Agra). On parting he shook hands with me and again expressed his sorrow, and said that "though absent in body he would be present in thought and spirit with me." On our way in the train I arranged with my wife to go to Meerut first, and after remaining four days there to go off to Delhi where she had never been, stop a couple of days there, and on our return to pass a day at Allyghur with a relation, and then to return home to Agra a day prior to the opening of my office. The programme was finally settled between us. The two days after our arrival at my brother-in-law's were spent most pleasantly. Early on the morning of the third day after partaking of some refreshments we sat together to think of amusements for the night, when all of a sudden a curious sensation came over me, I felt dull and melancholy, and told my brother-in-law that I must return to Agra immediately. He was extremely surprised. As I had agreed to spend that and the following day with him, the whole family remonstrated with me for my abrupt proposal, and naturally concluded that something or other had given me offense. But all persuasions to detain me, even for that day, proved ineffectual, and in another hour I was with my luggage on the Meerut Railway Station. Before we took tickets for Agra, my wife urged me to go only as far as Ghaziabad (whence the train branches off to Delhi). I did so, but no sooner was the train in motion than the longing to go to Agra again returned. Without taking any further course, I took on our arrival at Ghaziabad tickets direct for Agra. This surprised my wife very much, in fact she felt dismayed, and we sat all the way to Allyghur without exchanging even so much as a sentence. At Allyghur she was inexorable in her entreaties to see her relations. I sent her over there, but I could not be persuaded to accompany her, and proceeded to Agra, where on my arrival at night, I was thunderstruck with the dreadful news that my friend had suddenly died that very morning from apoplexy at Rambagh, probably about the time I was taking refreshments at Meerut. The next morning I was present to witness the last remains of my dear friend committed to his last resting-place. Every one present at the funeral, who knew that I was not to have returned to the station before the office opened, plied me with questions as to how I came to hear of the sad bereavement, and who it was that had telegraphed to me. But I candidly confess that no other communication or message was ever sent to me or even attempted save a depression in spirits, a longing and restless desire to be present at Agra as quickly as possible.
Note by the Editor. No need of attributing the above "warning" to anything supernatural. Many and varied are the psychic phenomena in life, which unintentionally or otherwise are either attributed to the agency of disembodied "spirits" or entirely and intentionally ignored. By saying this we do not intend at all depriving the spiritual theory of its raison d'être. But beside that theory there exist other manifestations of the same psychic force in man's daily life, which is generally disregarded or erroneously looked upon as a result of simple chance or coincidence, for the only reason that we are unable to forthwith assign for it a logical and comprehensive cause though the manifestations undoubtedly bear the impress of a scientific character, evidently belonging, as they do, to that class of psycho-physiological phenomena which, even men of great scientific attainments and such specialists as Dr. Carpenter are now busying themselves with. The cause for this particular phenomenon is to be sought in the occult (yet no less undeniable for it) influence exercised by the active will of one man over the will of another man, whenever the will of the latter is surprised in a moment of rest or a state of passiveness. We speak now of presentiments. Were every person to pay close attention in an experimental and scientific spirit of course to his daily action and watch his thoughts, conversation and resultant acts, and carefully analyze these, omitting no details trifling as they might appear to him, then would he find for most of these actions and thoughts coinciding reasons based upon mutual psychic influence between the embodied intelligences.
Several instances, more or less familiar to every one through personal experience, might be here adduced. We will give but two. Two friends or even simple acquaintances are separated for years. Suddenly one of them he who remained at home and who may have never thought of the absent person for years, thinks of that individual. He remembers him without any possible cause or reason, and the long-forgotten image sweeping through the silent corridors of MEMORY brings it before his eyes as vividly as if he were there. A few minutes after that, an hour perhaps, that absent person pays the other an unexpected visit. Another instance, A lends to B a book. B having read and laid it aside thinks no more of it, though A requested him to return the work immediately after perusal. Days, perhaps months after that, B's thought occupied with important business, suddenly reverts to the book, and he remembers his neglect. Mechanically he leaves his place and stepping to his library gets it out, thinking to send it back without fail this once. At the same moment, the door opens. A enters, telling that he had come purposely to fetch his book, as he needed it. Coincidence? Not at all. In the first case it was the fault of the traveller, which, as he had decided upon visiting an old friend or acquaintance, was concentrated upon the other man, and that thought by its very activity proved energetic enough to overpower the then passive thought of the other. The same explanation stands good in the case of A and B. But Mr. Constantine may argue, "my late friend's thought could not influence mine since he was already dead, when I was being irresistibly drawn to Agra." Our answer is ready. Did not the warmest friendship exist between the writer and the deceased? Had not the latter promised to be with him in "thought and spirit"? And that leads to the positive inference that his thought was strongly pre-occupied before his death, with him whom he had unintentionally disappointed. Sudden as may have been that death, thought is instantaneous and more rapid still. Nay, it surely was a hundredfold intensified at the moment of death. Thought is the last thing that dies or rather fades out in the human brain of a dying person, and thought, as demonstrated by science, is material, since it is but a mode of energy, which itself changes form but is eternal. Hence, that thought whose strength and power are always proportionate to its intensity, became, so to say, concrete and palpable, and with the help of the strong affinity between the two, it enveloped and overpowered the whole sentient and thinking principle in Mr. Constantine subjecting it entirely, and forcing the will of the latter to act in accordance with his desire. The thinking agent was dead and the instrument lay shattered for ever. But its last sound lived, and could not have completely died out, in the waves of ether. Science says, the vibration of one single note of music will linger on in motion through the corridors of all eternity; and theosophy, the last thought of the dying man changes into the man himself; it becomes his eidolon. Mr. Constantine would not have surprised us, nor would he have indeed deserved being accused by the skeptical of either superstition or of having labored under a hallucination had he even seen the image, or the so-called "ghost" of his deceased friend before him. For that "ghost" would have been neither the conscious spirit nor the soul of the dead man; but simply his short for one instant materialized thought projected unconsciously and by the sole power of his own intensity in the direction of him who occupied that THOUGHT.
Theosophist, June, 1881
H. P. Blavatsky