[Cover photo: Gustav Theodor Fechner (1801-1887). Founder of modern Experimental Psychology. Philosopher inclined to a mystical outlook. Held in great esteem by H.P.B. It would appear from Letter IX in The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, pp. 44-45, the Master K.H. knew Fechner in Germany and had conversations with him. (reproduced from Max Wentscher, Fechner und Lotze, Munich, 1925.)]
Published every Three Months. Sponsored
by an International Group of Theosophists.
None of the organized Theosophical Societies, as such, are responsible for any ideas expressed in this magazine, unless contained in an official document. The Editor is responsible for unsigned articles only.
"The ways of the gods are natural, the ways of men unnatural, and there is nothing supernatural, except this: that if a man does a useless thing, none reproves him; if he does a harmful thing, few seek to restrain him; but if he seeks to imitate the gods and to encourage others, all those in authority accuse him of corruption. So it is more dangerous to teach truth than to enter a powder magazine with a lighted torch." - From the Book of the Sayings of Tsiang Samdup; quoted by Talbot Mundy in Om - The Secret of Ahbor Valley, p. 172.
"In brief context, spirit is the eternal, all-knowing presence within all aspects of the cosmic structure. It is the essential perfection toward which all life is inevitably attracted. Body, on the other hand, is the physical or material expression of the life process; the terrestrial womb of things manifest. In abeyance, the soul, or seat of expanding consciousness, receives its conception and growth from the interaction of spirit and body or matter, leaning, in most instances, toward one and then the other. This dual allegiance is the source of life's great conflicts and moral arguments; but, more important, it provides degrees of spiritual insight known only to Man ... such is the soul's role as communicator between the seen and the unseen, the small and the great, the physical and the spiritual." - Dr. Robert Bonnell. 
Sell-centeredness in his life is one of the chief difficulties confronting the student of occultism.
He is attempting to broaden his view of life, to acquire a universal outlook on people and events, to rise above the limitations he has become cognizant of through his studies. To defeat his objectives and thwart his best efforts at spiritual growth, his personal selfhood rises in rebellion, as it instinctively senses that its days may be counted. Every opportunity is used by this elemental entity to assert itself in the life of the student, so that his attention may be attracted to the welfare of his precious and habitual self. This game has no end of casuistry, excuses, self-deceptions, and is often quite successful if it can achieve even a temporary reversal of the student's attitude, so that he becomes self-centered and oblivious for a time of the larger objectives of his life.
In this struggle between two centers of consciousness, the student often forgets the intrinsic value of die personal selfhood. Physically speaking, it can hardly be worth more than a dollar in chemicals contained in his ashes. As to the astral structure, and the lower elements and energies of his psychological apparatus, their dissipation after death will result merely in a certain amount of psychic smog in the intermediate spheres. And this is what so many of us cling to in life, and are afraid of losing!
One of the most curious aspects of this game is that the elemental self can use the deeply-seated desire of the student for occult knowledge to make him engage in endless and far-reaching studies of the occult, just to build up within his consciousness the feeling of superiority over those others who are ignorant of all these sundry and outlandish things. This is one of the royal roads to eventual Pratyeka-Buddhaship, far though this goal may be!
To avoid this situation, it is of imperative importance for the student to engage in one or another effort dedicated to some impersonal objective in a universal Cause, such as the Theosophical Movement is in the widest meaning of the term.
Study of the teachings, and study alone, will have no permanent effect in spiritual growth, unless the student devises some effort, work, project, by means of which he can find an outlet for his growing knowledge, and a channel of service to those who are struggling to find light in the midst of darkness, and some way out of the heavy karmic setting they have tangled themselves in. Considering the state of affairs in today's world, there should be no difficulty in finding avenues of action for anyone who has realized the healing value of the ancient teachings.
If the student can devise for himself a method whereby to apply in the outer world of service what he has learned in his studies and meditations, and forget his cherished personal selfhood in some universally-minded effort, he will eventually defeat his self-centeredness and enter into those endless fields of spiritual life where the Wind of the Spirit is blowing. 
[Excerpts from an important Essay written by H.P.B. in French and originally published in La Revue Theosophique (Paris), Vol. I, May through August, 1889. The passages translated herewith are from the May issue. The Essay in its entirety will appear, both in French and English, in the forthcoming Volume XI of the Collected Writings, now on the Press. - Editor Theosophia.]
There is Theosophy and Theosophy: the true Theosophy of the Theosophist, and the Theosophy of a Fellow of the Society of that name. What does the world know of true Theosophy? How can it distinguish between that of a Plotinus, and that of the false brothers? And of the latter the Society possesses more than its share. The egoism, vanity and self-sufficiency of the majority of mortals is incredible. There are some for whom their little personality constitutes the whole universe, beyond which there is no salvation. Suggest to one of these that the alpha and omega of wisdom are not limited by the circumference of his or her brain, that his judgment is not quite equal to that of Solomon, and straightaway he accuses you of anti-Theosophy. You have been guilty of blasphemy against the Spirit, which will not be pardoned in this century, nor in the next. These people say, "I am Theosophy," as Louis XIV said, "I am the State." They speak of fraternity and of altruism and only care in reality for that which cares for no one else - themselves, in other words their little "me." Their egoism makes them fancy that it is they alone who represent the temple of Theosophy, and that in proclaiming themselves to the world, they are proclaiming Theosophy. Alas! The doors and windows of that "temple" are no better than so many channels through which enter, but very seldom depart, the vices and illusions characteristic of egotistical mediocrities.
These people are the termites of The Theosophical Society, who eat away its foundations, and are a perpetual menace to it. It is only when they leave it that it is possible to breathe freely.
It is not such as these that can ever give a correct idea of practical Theosophy, still less of the transcendental Theosophy which occupies the minds of a small group of the elect. Everyone of us possesses the faculty, the interior sense, known as intuition, but how rare are those who know how to develop it! It is, however, the only faculty by means of which men and things are seen in their true colours. It is an instinct of the soul, which grows in us in proportion to the use we make of it, and which helps us to perceive and understand real and absolute facts with far more certainty than reason. What are called good sense and logic enable us to see the appearance of things, that which is evident to everyone. The instinct of which I speak, being a projection of our perceptive consciousness, a projection which acts from the subjective to the objective, and not vice versa, awakens the spiritual senses in us and the power to act; these senses assimilate to themselves the essence of the object or of the action under examination, and represent them to us as they really are, not  as they appear to our physical senses and to our cold reason. "We begin with instinct, we end with omniscience," says Professor A. Wilder, our oldest colleague. Iamblichus has described this faculty, and some Theosophists have been able to appreciate the truth of his description.
"There exists (he says] a faculty in the human mind which is immensely superior to all those which are grafted or engendered in us. By means of it we can attain to union with superior intelligences, finding ourselves raised above the scenes of this earthly life, and partaking of the higher existence and superhuman powers of the inhabitants of the celestial spheres. By this faculty we find ourselves finally liberated from the dominion of Destiny [Karman], and we become, so to say, arbiters of our own fate. For when the most excellent part of us finds itself filled with energy, and when our soul is lifted up towards essences higher than science, it can separate itself from the conditions which hold it in bondage to everyday life; it exchanges its ordinary existence for another one, and renounces the conventional habits which belong to the external order of things, to give itself up to, and mix itself with, another order of things which reigns in that most elevated state of existence ... " * [* Iamblichus, De mysteries, VIII, 6 and 7.]
Plato expressed the same idea in a couple of lines:
"The light and spirit of the Divinity are the wings of the soul. They raise it to communion with the gods, above this earth, with which the spirit of man is too ready to soil itself ... To become like the gods, is to become holy, just and wise. That is the end for which man was created, and that ought to be his aim in the acquisition of knowledge." * [* Phaedrus, 246; Theaetetus, 176 B.)
This is true Theosophy, inner Theosophy, that of the soul. But, followed with a selfish aim, Theosophy changes its nature and becomes demonosophy. That is why Oriental Wisdom teaches us that the Hindu yogi who isolates himself in an impenetrable forest, like the Christian hermit who, as was common in former times, retires to the desert, are both of them but accomplished egoists. The one acts with the sole idea of finding in the One essence of Nirvana refuge against reincarnation; the other acts with the unique idea of saving his soul - both of them think only of themselves. Their motive is altogether personal; for, even supposing they attain their end, are they not like cowardly soldiers, who desert the regiment when it goes into action, in order to protect themselves from the bullets? In isolating themselves as they do, neither the Yogi nor the "saint" helps anyone but himself; on the contrary, both show themselves profoundly indifferent to the fate of mankind whom they fly from and desert. Mount Athos contains, perhaps, a few sincere fanatics; nevertheless even these have unwittingly gotten off the only track that could lead them to the truth - the path of Calvary, on which each one voluntarily bears the cross of humanity, and for humanity. In reality it is a nest of the coarsest kind of selfishness; and it is to such places that Adams' remark on monasteries applies: "There are solitary creatures who seem to have fled from the rest of mankind for the sole pleasure of communing with the devil tete-a-tete." 
Gautama the Buddha only remained in solitude long enough to enable him to arrive at the truth, which he devoted himself from that time on to promulgate, begging his bread, and living for humanity. Jesus retired to the desert for forty days only, and died for this same humanity. Apollonius of Tyana, Plotinus and Iamblichus, while leading lives of singular abstinence, almost of asceticism, lived in the world and for the world. The greatest ascetics and saints of our own days are not those who retire into inaccessible places, but those who pass their lives in travelling from place to place, doing good and trying to raise mankind; although they may avoid Europe, and those civilized countries where no one has any eyes or ears except for himself, countries divided into two camps - those of Cain and Abel.
Those who regard the human soul as an emanation of the Deity, as a particle or ray of the universal and ABSOLUTE soul, understand the parable of the talents better than do the Christians. He who hides in the earth the talent given him by his "Lord" will lose that talent, as the ascetic loses it, who takes it into his head to "save his soul" in egotistical solitude. The "good and faithful servant" who doubles his capital, by harvesting for him who has not sown, because he had no means of doing so, and who reaps where the poor could not scatter the grain, acts like a true altruist. He will receive his recompense, just because be has worked for another, without the idea of reward or recognition. That man is the altruistic Theosophist, while the other is an egoist and a coward.
The Beacon-light upon which the eyes of all real Theosophists are fixed is the same towards which in all ages the imprisoned human soul has struggled. This Beacon, whose light shines upon no earthly seas, but which has mirrored itself in the sombre depths of the primordial waters of infinite space, is called by us, as by the earliest Theosophists, "Divine Wisdom." This is the last word of the esoteric doctrine. Where was the country in ancient days, with the right to call itself civilized, that did not possess a double system of WISDOM, one for the masses, and the other for the few, the exoteric and the esoteric? This WISDOM, or, as we sometimes say, the "Wisdom-Religion" or Theosophia, is as old as the human mind. The title of sages - the high-priests of this worship of truth - was its first derivative. These names were transformed into philosophy and philosophers - the "lovers of science" or of wisdom. It is to Pythagoras that we owe the name, as also that of gnosis, the system of gnosis ... "the knowledge of things that are," or of the essence that is hidden beneath the external appearances under that name, so noble and so correct in its definition, all masters of antiquity designated the aggregate of human and divine knowledge. The sages and Brahmanas of India, the magi of Chaldea and Persia, the hierophants of Egypt and Arabia, the prophets or nebi'im of Judaea and of Israel, as well as the philosophers of Greece and Rome, have always classified that special science in two divisions - the esoteric, or the true, and the exoteric, disguised by symbols. To this very day the Jewish Rabbis give the name of Merkabah to the body or vehicle of their religious system, that which contains within itself the higher sciences accessible only to the initiates, and of which it is only the husk. 
We are accused of mystery, and we are reproached with making a secret of the higher Theosophy. We confess that the doctrine which we call gupta-vidya (secret science) is only for the few. But who were the masters in ancient times who did not keep their teachings secret, for fear they would be profaned? From Orpheus and Zoroaster, Pythagoras and Plato, down to the Rosicrucians, and the more modern Freemasons, it has been the invariable rule that the disciple must gain the confidence of the master before receiving from him the supreme and final word. The most ancient religions have always had their greater and lesser mysteries. The neophytes and catechumens took an inviolable oath before they were accepted. The Essenes of Judaea and Mount Carmel required the same thing. The Nabi and the Nazars (the "separated ones" of Israel), like the lay Chelas and the Brahmacharins of India, differed greatly from each other. The former could, and can be married and remain in the world, while studying the sacred writings up to a certain point; the latter, the Nazars and the Brahmacharins, have always been entirely pledged to the mysteries of initiation. The great schools of Esotericism were international, although exclusive, as is proved by the fact that Plato, Herodotus, and others, went to Egypt to be initiated; while Pythagoras, after visiting the Brahmanas of India stopped at an Egyptian sanctuary, and finally was received, according to Iamblichus, at Mount Carmel. Jesus followed the traditional custom, and justified the reticence by quoting the well-known precept: "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you" [Matt., vii, 6.].
Some ancient writings known to Bibliophiles, personify WISDOM, representing it as emanating from AIN-SOPH, the Parabrahman of Jewish Kabalists, and being an associate and companion of the manifested deity. Hence its sacred character among all nations. Wisdom is inseparable from Divinity. Thus we have the Vedas emanating from the mouth of the Hindu Brahma (the logos). Buddha comes from Budha, "Wisdom," divine intelligence. The Babylonian Nebo, the Thoth of Memphis, the Greek Hermes, were 0 gods of esoteric wisdom ...
This is exoteric, like all that has reference to the personal gods of the nations. The INFINITE cannot be known to our reason, which can only distinguish and define; but we can always conceive the abstract idea thereof, thanks to that faculty higher than our reason - intuition, or the spiritual instinct of which I have spoken. The great initiates, who have the rare power of throwing themselves into the state of samadhi - which can be but imperfectly translated by the word ecstasy, a state in which one ceases to be the conditioned and personal "I," and becomes one with the ALL - are the only ones who can boast of having been in contact with the infinite; but no more than other mortals can they describe that state in words ...
These few characteristics of true Theosophy and its practice have been sketched for the small number of our readers who are gifted with the desired intuition. As to the others, either they would not understand us, or would laugh. 
"This questing for Truth is much like the ascent of a mountain peak up which run a number of paths from different sides. Some climbers take one path and some another, but if they keep ascending they will come closer to their fellows who are on different paths, and they may hope to meet them on the summit, where all paths converge." - Raynor Johnson, The Imprisoned Splendour.
As long as men are free to employ their reason, it is safe to assume that there will be philosophers. The rise of western civilization, indeed of modern science, could scarcely have come about without the contributions of great philosophic minds. In a sense, this was only natural for many of the first western scientists were also philosophers.
The real philosopher is engaged in the pursuit of wisdom, or the search for truth - however truth may be defined. Like the philosopher, modern man, too, must begin to build a foundation for the exploration of his own being in relationship to the world about him. As the ancients learned to develop their speculative faculty to assist them in understanding the known, modern man will soon need to unfold his latent imaginative powers to comprehend the unknown. Bertrand Russell observed in Wisdom of the West: "As one comes into the border regions and beyond, one passes from science into the field of speculation. This speculative activity is a kind of exploration, and this, among other things, is what philosophy is."
On the Frontiers of Knowledge
Philosophers truly stand at the fore-front of human knowledge. One need only consider the enormous influence Plato and Aristotle have had throughout the centuries to realize this fundamental truism. Even in the twentieth century Plato's Timaeus has relevance to recent advancements in theoretical physics, as is evident in the work of Werner Heisenberg. Metaphysics, the area of philosophy devoted to the formation of world views, which for many years had been on a steady decline in influence, is now undergoing a revival as scientists themselves lay a groundwork for a new metaphysics based upon such nonmaterial concepts as force fields. Philosophy in the main, however, remains untouched. There is still a major cleavage between the principal idealistic philosophies such as Phenomenology and Existentialism on the one hand, and the more scientifically-influenced schools of Humanism and Logical Positivism on the other. Ethical and aesthetic schools remain but do not seem to be in vogue. Rationalism still seems to underlie what currently passes for sophisticated philosophy. More spiritual schools, such as Personalism are really in the back-ground. It is to be hoped that philosophy in the future may produce thinkers of sufficient creativity and daring to bridge the gap currently existing between the two major extremes and evolve a more universal metaphysics as  well as a more universally applicable ethic.
While philosophy per se continues to endure as a multifaceted branch of human knowledge and speculation, many of its more ennobling ideas have left their somewhat restricted confines and born fruit elsewhere. Two significant developments which augur well for the future are the Logotherapy of the psychotherapist, Dr. Viktor E. Frankl and the truly borderland science. of Parapsychology. While the former of these aims toward a more universal ethic, the latter is instrumental in preparing a truer understanding and appreciation of the nature of man.
Philosophy in Psychological Dress: Logotherapy
While more empirical schools of thought are engrossed in the form aspect of nature, the more idealistic and spiritual schools tend to be more preoccupied with the life aspect as it reveals and unfolds itself in form. Because Existentialism is humanistic, individual concerns emerge and focus is laid upon one's life and needs, both psychological and spiritual. Existentialism itself has come to be expressed in several philosophical forms, some theological, as with Kierkegaard and Marcel, others more in the atheistic vein, as with Sartre and Heidegger. Camus, one of existentialism's most popular exponents, sees all of its variations as having something in common and in his essay "An Absurd Reasoning," he writes: "Now to limit myself to existential philosophies, I see that all of them without exception suggest escape. Through an odd reasoning, starting out from the absurd over the ruins of reason, in a closed universe limited to the human, they deify what crushes them and find reason to hope in what impoverishes them. That forced hope is religious in all of them." Despite this cynical characterization of existentialism by Camus, there is still much room for hope in its tenets, especially within a value-laden therapeutic framework, i.e., logotherapy.
Logotherapy assumes as one of its major premisses that the primary motivational need in man is the need for meaning. Dr. Frankl interprets the Greek term "logos" as "meaning." In this respect, Frankl's school of psychotherapy differs radically from those of Freud and Adler, who respectively conceived of man's basic motivational drive as either the result of a pleasure-principle or the need for power. In logotherapy, we are well on the way toward the development of a value philosophy, a universal ethic, as man assumes responsibility for his thoughts and actions as the result of the logotherapeutic interaction between patient and therapist. (Of course, one need not be under psychiatric care to derive benefit from the philosophic conceptualizations of logotherapy.) Dr. Frankl states in his book, The Doctor and the Soul:
"We are faced here with an interesting problem: what are the possibilities for giving life meaning, for realizing values? There are several answers. Men can give meaning to their lives by realizing what I call creative values, by achieving tasks. But they can also give meaning to their lives by realizing experiential values, by experiencing the  Good, the True, and the Beautiful [oddly enough, here Dr. Frankl openly acknowledges his indebtedness to Platonic value theory, rather than the existentialist ethic per se], or by knowing one single human being in his uniqueness. And to experience one human being as unique means to love him."
Dr. Frankl derives from existentialism the emphasis upon one's being aware of his responsibility, but he appears to transform the Sartrean conception of man as being "alone, forsaken, and without hope" into one wherein man can learn to live with others with hope. One can attain a basic insight into his inner life which will lead him away from the conviction that all is full of absurdity and despair. Life can be meaningful if one learns to value both love and his work. The philosophy of tomorrow will be worthwhile for man insofar as it is able to transmit to him an applicable and desirable ethic to meet the needs of his total personality.
Philosophy and Parapsychology
Historically, a number of philosophers have been interested in occult phenomena. Still others seem to have possessed psychic abilities. Plato, both in the Phaedo and the Republic, was concerned with the existence of the soul as a separate entity. Both Pythagoras of Samos and Apollonius of Tyana seemed to have had paranormal abilities.
In more recent times, philosophers such as Kant and Schopenhauer were able to make contributions to para-psychological literature. The former, in his celebrated essay "Dreams of a Ghost Seer," made a spoof of Swedenborg's psychic attainments. Earlier, however, he had been rather favorably disposed towards him as revealed in a letter to Charlotte von Knobloch. Schopenhauer, in a portion of his treatise "On the Will in Nature" (1836), called attention to the role of somnambulistic clairvoyance to support his view that the will was not altogether isolated from natural phenomena. He was also interested in the relevance of clairvoyance to animal magnetism, hypnotism, and the significance of dreams.
In the twentieth century, philosophers such as C.D. Broad and H. H. Price have been interested in parapsychology. In recent years the late philosopher-theosophist Dr. J.J. Poortman of Holland was of special interest, for he was able to develop a system of philosophy called Hylic Pluralism which is capable of explaining the results of parapsychology (vide especially Ochema: The Import of Hylic Pluralism, Vol. VI.). Briefly, hylic pluralism is a philosophy of subtle matter. There are different kinds of this subtle matter, i.e., there is not only spirit but several different types of pneuma: physical pneuma like air, physiological pneuma like Mesmeric force, psychological pneuma like the astral body of Theosophists or perhaps even more loftier pneuma like "the glorious body of Resurrection."
In Ochema, Dr. Poortman not only includes a survey of the above conceptions through the past 2,000 years of recorded history and the individuals who conceived them, but a discussion as well of how they explain such  diverse parapsychological phenomena as telepathy, astral projection, and clairvoyance.
By now it should be apparent that the influence of philosophy reaches beyond its somewhat rigid confines into other academic disciplines, where invaluable work is now being undertaken with profound implications for the whole of mankind. The beliefs surrounding man's true nature, as well as his place and destiny in the cosmic scheme, do not rest on shifting sands but are finding increasing confirmation and value as time progresses and the world of tomorrow looms upon us.
"I have renounced this passing frame; I have destroyed the cause; the shadows cast can, as effects, no longer be." - The Voice of the Silence, Fragment III.
In order to grasp the actually unearthly goal of earthly existence, an acceptance of Mysticism is indispensable. Growth, that spells out-growing the limitations of earthly Reason, is the one approach to a solution of the Life Mystery. To acknowledge this fact is to admit that the ultimate aim of earthly existence is its unearthly transcendence. This mortal personality has birth on earth to the end that it may be offered up on the altar of Truth. This is a burnt offering that strikes fear into the heart of all of us; it is life's final and most sublime sacrifice, passionately wedded to this personality as we have become.
Theosophically understood, death, in relation to this ultimate sacrifice, is a natural and wholly unterrifying experience. Any loss characterizing this experience must be measured in terms of wasted opportunities for growth, disfiguring the life here drawing to its close. These wasted opportunities are due, in most cases, to a failure to acknowledge any approach to the Mystery beyond Reason.
The sanely minded mystic dreams not of discarding Reason, but insists that it, pilgrim-like, tread its own path to the uttermost limits of penetration. He magnifies, rather than belittles, the pathway of intellectual study. But at the same time be bares his brow to the sunlight of Spiritual Enlightenment, enabling it to penetrate the casements of the reasoning mind, that a light, "ne'er seen on sea or land," may disclose heights of illumination the most astute Reason cannot climb. Herein lie discovers at last that the final answer is not a creed nor a formula, but a state of being, that earthly logic may envision, but can never encompass.
The backbone of any genuine Mysticism is a "Being," not merely a "Knowing," save insofar as we "know" only that which me "are." The Path of the Mystic is the Path of Transcendence - becoming THAT which one aspires  to. He who grows in wisdom, mysteriously gains momentum in Becoming. This mystery will never be penetrated by a merely acute intelligence; its penetration awaits eternally the reverence of the hungering Spirit. Brilliant perception can be a mild desecration to the selfless adoration that glorifies the dedicated Seeker. Silence, Meditation, Compassion, Selflessness - these are the keys that open the jeweled gates of Spiritual Transcendence.
These keys are fashioned by the Master Locksmith of the Spirit, unimpeded by the traditions and limitations of mortality. The Seeker has "renounced this passing frame; he has destroyed the cause; the shadows cast can, as effects, no longer be." This release, Reason, rooted in the mortal personality, is incapable of accomplishing. Only the Spiritual Self, rejecting the earthly lures of world Time, can "irrationally" wing its way to "unreasonable" spheres of Selflessness and Timelessness, where no Iron Curtain or earthly rationality restrain the spiritual adventurer.
After all, the devotee of "common sense" is not denied the privilege of exerting Uncommon Intuition, if he has honestly come to grips with his personal and temporal limitations. Once having admitted Uncommon Intuition into the "hallowed" company of pure Reason, it is not unlikely that the latter will take on new dimensions and accept larger implications as the result of a sort of vitalization of dead "facts." (Henry Adams, author of Education, remarks: "Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert facts.") In today's psychology one hardly has to apologize for noting that in the face of all known "facts," living seems to have less and less meaningfulness, day by day. Apparently "Computerized Compassion" is a misbegotten monster of up-to-the-minute technology! "The paths of Technology lead but to the grave."
Inasmuch as Mysticism is the handmaid of Ultimate Truth, he whose living is motivated by a search for that truth, lives reverently. His is a holy pilgrimage in search of an eternally Holy Land; in that search selfless reverence is a lovely bloom, slowly opening to the sunlight of spiritual aspiration. The wonder of its flowering imparts an unearthly serenity to the Seeker's daily living. Ever so gradually, he begins to discover solutions to the Mystery, in tree, flower and star - each born of, and illuminating it.
He becomes enamored of this sacred wayfaring in a Holy Land, wherein Cause and Effect - never Chance or favor - exquisitely shape and beautify the patterns of destiny. Loving those patterns, as he must, he yearns to become a creator of like potency, at whose touch ugliness is transfigured, discord subdued. He looks not for reasoned results, content to be at all times a conscious part of the Spirit's eternal unfoldment. He needs no other teacher than Life to convince him that the Path of the Mystic is one of blissful creativeness.
It is a fatal mistake to imagine that Mysticism justifies belittling of right Reason. All it denies, if sanely and soundly based, is that Reason alone can take him all the way to the Altar of Truth, since that Truth itself remains a mystery to the reasoning mind. Nevertheless, the mind, sedulously  shielded from personal pride, personal greed and personal bias, can, with uninterrupted study, lead him, step by step, to the Path of the Mystic. Hereon, the deific must take over from the scientific, becoming a Science of the Spirit. Every mighty civilization this earth has produced owes such splendor as it manifest to the Sacred Science - MYSTICISM.
I agree with you that many people do a lot of changing even before they are thirty, and, as you suggest, we keep changing forever. We are never the same. There is always movement. And yet it's a bit of a paradox. Something within remains as Witness to the change, experiencing the change, almost it seems directing the change. The old Greek philosopher Herakleitos put it more philosophically: panta rhei: all things flow. I think we, our inner selves, flow outwardly expressing that inner self more and more throughout our lives, so that, if we're intuitively alert, our outer becomes more and more harmonious with the inner. Even outer experiences conform more and more to the inner direction.
"Ectenic" or Psychic Force
You ask about psychic ability and if it can be awakened by physical processes or surgical operations. Well, I don't like the idea that just trepanning the skull or injuring something physically, or putting pressure on a certain physiological spot, brings forth or develops this psychic ability; but we have heard of such instances. You recall The Third Eye? I thought much of this was bunkum though it had some elements of truth in it. The author indicated that in Tibet they operated on the brain in some way to stimulate and activate what corresponds to "the third eye." I forget whether it had to do with the pituitary gland. At any rate, I do not consider the result a spiritual "awakening." We must remember that many "simple" folk have this so-called gift. They may have been born thus "blessed" or been injured in the womb or in early childhood. Often they are considered intellectually unbalanced or half-witted, yet they evidence closeness to nature that normal individuals lack. Their condition may physiologically be traced to some accident in the formative years, and psychic development may be for them a sort of compensation.
Of course karma enters the picture. Karma, to put it crudely, caused the accident. The pressure was "karma," and karma, in its workings, used the physical blow to bring about consequences the soul had earned for its experience. Undoubtedly H.P.B. somewhere must touch on this point, probably in Isis. A paragraph she quotes in that volume from Professor Crookes may have general significance as an explanation of all these psychic (but by  no means spiritual) conditions. She writes (Isis Unveiled, I, 113.):
"As Mr. Crookes tells us, Professor Thury refutes 'all these explanations, and considers the effects due to a peculiar substance, fluid, or agent, pervading in a manner similar to the luminiferous ether of the scientists, all matter, nervous, organic or inorganic, which he terms psychode. He enters into full discussion as to the properties of this state, or form, or matter, and proposes the term ectenic force ... for the power exerted when the mind acts at a distance through the influence of the psychode'."
That is quoted by H.P.B. from Crookes' Researches in Spiritualism (1874), p. 27. So maybe the physical blow released some hitherto imprisoned ability to perceive or be open to this "ectenic" force. H.P.B. says this force, which could be called also the astral or sidereal light, or akasa, "was known to the Gymnosophists, Hindu magicians, and adepts of all countries, thousands of years ago; and that it is still known to them, and used at present by the Thibetan lamas, fakirs, thaumaturgists of all nationalities, and even by many of the Hindu 'jugglers'."
Your friend who has been studying some of the Eastern philosophies tells you that man is not born to suffer. You ask about this and about meditation.
First let us ask what is meant by suffering? Does the tulip bulb pushing its tender tip through the crusty soil suffer? Does the human soul, reaching from darkness towards light, suffer? Is growth suffering? We are not babes in the woods forever. We are responsible beings. That means we respond. We act. We do something. Whatever happens - we are responsible. And when response comes from those who feel that act, the effects of that act (or from Nature who feels it), do we suffer the response, the consequences? Do we enjoy them? You see the difficulty and the trickiness of words. We have to get away from the mint-value we give them as thought-coinage for ready use and arrive at, or at least seek, the actual thought itself. The key thought then, I believe, is not the word or idea of suffering (or enjoying); it is the idea of responsibility and coming to realize the creative meaning of it. You are a god, in the truest sense, creating. And you are responsible for creation.
The more you advance, the wiser is your "creation" or thought. And the response you receive (from everywhere), whether through suffering or enjoyment, teaches you, trains you, instructs you, to "create" more wisely, more in harmony with Nature herself.
The original meaning of the Latin word to suffer, is to endure, to bear, to undergo. It might be helpful to consider the word in this sense. You, the human individual, undergo joy or happiness or peace, as well as pain and irritation, etc. Suffering in this sense is merely experiencing. 
"On the tree of Silence hangs the fruit of peace. The secret thou wouldst not tell thine enemy, tell it not to thy friend." - An old Arab proverb.
Like a cave of echoes our conversation ripples at the edge of a mighty ocean. So unworthy of our deepest dignity, it defies the imagination to remember a world once again filled with the gold of silence. The old teachings, advise men to be sparing of speech and things will come right of themselves. Sensitivity to hidden laws of nature, patience to wait and watch, divide the sage from the fool. Only from the sage is speech priceless.
Care is no longer taken for words. We use fine words like "keen" and "beautiful" but slander them by application to unworthy objects and conditions. Everyone feels he must have an opinion or an "enthusiasm" about something or someone. This we have called intelligence, while the ability to analyze is one of its aspects rarely found in the glibly stated opinions. We say, "He is one of the beautiful people," without attaching any standard or value to beauty. It is an emotional admiration, a lusted attraction. People do not have to reach up any more for acclaim. Everyone is "grooving" for something.
In the matter of real consent, in trust between two hearts or promises and confidences, how many of us, even Theosophists, uphold them when there are "fall-outs" and breaches of friendship. We dare not spread our word-treasures too widely. One has many acquaintances, perhaps, but few friends. Even with our friends we have to be alert to the shades of feeling, so that our words give our true meaning. Emerson urged us (in Spiritual Laws: Essays: 1st series) to Be, not seem.
"Let us take our bloated nothingness out of the path of the divine circuits ... real action is in silent moments. The epochs of our life are not in the visible facts of our choice of a calling, our marriage, our acquisition of an office, and the like, but in a silent thought by the wayside as we walk; in a thought which revises our entire manner of life and says - 'Thus hast thou done, but it were better thus ...
"I desire not to disgrace the soul. The fact that I am here certainly shows me that the soul had need of an organ here. Shall I not assume the post?"
A fisherman knows on which bank of a river to cast his line. When you really want a trout you don't let him see your shadow. In an age when the personality is rife, while the ego "mute and torpid sits," we are rightly worried about being misunderstood. The prisoner within has first to be understood by ourselves, because that being Understands. If freed, its gentle ways would soften the hardest hearts, casting and fearing no judgements. Personalities are so numerous, so various, that we fragment ourselves by tuning in to public opinions and not holding to guiding principles in our speech. 
Wasted words are often spun out in our attempt to maintain the hum of mutual consent in which society rests its security.
Besides the waste of words, the restraint of words in self-defense is an even more difficult discipline. At times those we felt we could trust have cast aspersions on our very motives. In these often heart-rending predicaments we catch ourselves upholding rigorous measures of thought which we might not have followed through into daily practice. Certainly we cannot enforce them on others when we see how we must work to bring them into fruition ourselves. If we sense the desperation of a one life goal we may develop genuine forbearance with our neighbor's competitiveness, which drives him to now and then thwart us in our pursuits. Sincerely believing he has only one life to accomplish things in, what else can he do but pursue his desires hastily toward their accomplishment.
The chaparral on hillsides in late winter withholds its budding branches to the colder winds, even though tempted by warming currents of coming spring. Nature waits, instead of bounding with irregular spurts of energy, until everything unfolds harmoniously. In terms of human spring times it may take centuries for the heart-light to penetrate the crusty human brain. Only by tending our own thought-cultivation can we reap H.P.B.'s promise that one day "this garden of the Gods, called humanity, will blossom as a rose."
A "Must" if you are interested
in the difference between the Psychic and the Spiritual. This new collection
of excerpts from H.P. Blavatsky's many books is fascinating, relevant,
and eminently useful. It includes sound advice to anyone who would
dabble in the psychic unwarned of the dangers he will meet.