The Human Aura.
[Respectfully Dedicated to Those Who Can See, and to Those Who,
Not Able to See, Yet Can Understand Intuitively.]
Having reached so far, we ought now to fully realize what the Human Aura is, and fully appreciate the following beautiful and concise summary:
"The Soul, i.e., the highest terrestrial Principle of the Human Monad, instead of having its abode inside of the physical structure, is of the nature of a nebulous aura, which not only permeates it, but likewise surrounds it in every direction. It is as if the body existed inside of an ovoid of tenuous mist, which held it alive and made it organic. This tenuous substance is living thought, like the body of an Angel or God, and is capable of exercising powers and functions of which we hardly imagine the existence." (Dr. Wilder, the Soul, Lucif. X, 467.)
The study of the Aura will undoubtedly be pregnant with interesting knowledge for the Theosophist, leading him to a better and deeper understanding of man's nature and composition; and it may not be out of place here, to express the hope that the effort herein made to classify its various components may lead to new photographic experiments, whereby each of them may be fully elucidated and reproduced, in all their various manifestations, at least in so far as the photographic gross matter will allow.
For ordinary readers, however, the next and last point to elucidate is the following: What may be the practical usefulness of this knowledge? — sufficient to justify the trouble of acquiring it?
For instance — outside of the important bearing, above indicated, of the subject, on Medicine, which may be denied and ridiculed for the present — scientists may consider it a light matter, very interesting only so far as it may add some new proof to what is already known of the fearful complication of man's constitution, or showing something more of the unending changes that happen in the constant phenomena of what is termed "life," or again  exemplifying the inexhaustible fertility of Nature's laws and manifestations, even into the infinitely small. But still, they might ask the question: Cui bono?
Paracelsus opens the way to an answer: "The vital fluid is not inclosed in man, but radiates round him like a luminous sphere, and it may be made to act at a distance; in these semi-material rays the imagination of man may to produce healthy or morbid effects; it may poison the essence of life and cause diseases, or it may purify it after it has been made impure and restore health."
To this old and respectable opinion we may add what Zoroastrianism thinks on the matter: "The human Aura is the most potent among all auras of existing creatures or things, as it carries with it the active living force of human will — in other words, of the soul-power of man. This aura exerts an influence, perceptible or imperceptible, on all the material objects which it touches, and especially on other auras." (B. E. Unwala, Theost. XVII, 341.)
The Hindus firmly believe that the mere sweeping of a human aura over an object can contaminate it. Now all this certainly contains some intimation about the advantage of knowing the nature and capabilities of the aura. But Mr. Sinnett expresses it more happily still: "When the physical body is seen in the midst of its higher vehicles, these overlapping on all sides, present the appearance of an emanation, and, from this point of view, are well spoken of as 'aura'; but, in all considerations of that subject, it is well to keep hold of the fundamental thought that the aura is really made up of the higher vehicles extended over a much larger volume of space than that occupied by the physical body. Therefore, when people are closely massed together, the Auras (i.e., the Higher Vehicles) mingle in a curious way, and catch influences one from the other, unless they are especially managed with occult knowledge." (Growth of the Soul, 171.)
Thus, a harmonious gathering of people has been aptly termed "a happy intermingling of sympathetic auras." Then again, "seers describe the magnetic effluences of two persons who are in complete accord, as interweaving or becoming blended; on the  other hand, the 'spheres' of individuals not in harmony have been depicted as battling against each other, looking the while like pillars of mist." (D. Gow, Unknown World, I, 184.) "One man's aura may receive as well as repel another's aura" — hence spontaneous friendships or antipathies which common knowledge attributes to anything but the right cause. However, this interpenetration of the auras of different persons gives the student a fair idea of the interpenetration of worlds and of various states or planes of matter, so often spoken of in the Secret Doctrine. But, what is more, it also opens a new vista to the subjects of the transmission of disease and of Mesmeric influence or Suggestion: "The Atharva Veda has, we believe, an injunction against coming within the distance of two cubits of a patient suffering from certain diseases, because the maladies are likely to be communicated to one; this of course would mean that they would pass through the two auras when they touched and interblended, and this would occur when the two individuals, each with an auric envelope of one cubit's radiation, came within two cubits' distance of each other." (Col. Olcott, Theost., XVII, 142.) In Zoroastrianism, three steps of interval between persons are considered necessary to prevent all defilement.
In what concerns Mesmerism, the fact — mentioned above in the part treating of the Magnetic Aura — of mesmeric passes having the power to "comb up" and restore to their normal order the disordered Electric or Health lines of a diseased person, while explaining mesmeric cures and some facts of clairvoyance, also shows the truth of this assertion, that "it is through the auras that the mesmerist controls his subject, and the tempter obtains ascendancy over his victims." (Unknown World, loc. cit.) Mesmerism is the faculty of imparting some of the currents of one's own Pranic or Magnetic Auras into another person's body, and the famous American seer, A. J. Davies, illustrated the process in an interesting manner by giving in his autobiography a series of diagrams, in which he tried to delineate the effect that mesmeric treatment produces simultaneously on the aura of the person submitted to it and that of the mesmerizer. He further described the mesmerist and the person mesmerised as surrounded  in the beginning by their own separate egg-shaped auras, which gradually interpenetrated so that, by the time the subject became entranced, the two auras were completely blended, the auras separating again a little when the subject begins to speak clairvoyantly.
Spiritualistic literature offers abundant observations on the Auras; but it is to be regretted that they are not always scientifically reliable. Thus, the writer remembers some interesting cases referring to the auras of some evilly disposed or unhealthy persons described by clairvoyants as being like a decidedly greenish vapor which caused sickness to sensitive individuals of the same family by contaminating their own auras or apparently poisoning the food that happened to pass through the hands of the ill-gifted persons. But no information was given as to what part of the aura this green vapor belonged, nor what kind of green it was.
We may now conclude that — outside of many other considerations, and outside of its bearing on the art of healing, — the correct knowledge or study of the Human Auras, by those who can perceive and sense them, or who are willing to train themselves for acquiring the proper power of vision, must lead to the following practical results, quite sufficient to justify the undertaking of that study, viz: Self-Protection under three aspects, socially, morally and physically:
1st. Socially, by enabling us to read more correctly the nature and tendencies of the persons we come in contact with, thereby becoming at once more prudent ourselves and more just, lenient and charitable towards others;
2nd. Morally, by day and by night, from the impingement and the imponderable allurements of foreign, useless, vicious ideas, thoughts, and temptations carried through the thought-currents of the world; and also against the subtle influence and sway of conscious or unconscious mesmerists, who border on black magic. A better understanding of the subject will further lead to self-purification, and, through this, to a more rapid progress for ourselves. Since every mental impression manifests on the aura and changes more or less permanently its colors, impure habits and thoughts must produce an impure aura; and since  also, the aura, taken as a whole, surrounds, envelops, and limits our entire Entity, — which it separates, isolates from the outside world, — it is easy to understand that an impure aura, while less pervious to good thoughts, will be more readily permeable to evil. But the very effort of leading a pure life must tend to purify the aura and thereby attract and absorb, as well as throw out, pure influences; and this process must enable the internal man to reach higher planes of thought and to help Humanity, while bettering himself.
a) Against the accession into the system of disease germs, this study leading to a better knowledge of the way to preserve our physical health ; every derangement of life being indicated by certain special impressions and colors in the various auras, the knowledge of these indications would not only constitute a warning to the sick, but also a sure guide to the choice of the most efficacious remedy (consult R. Prasad, Theost. IX, 551);
b) Also, by showing what is best to be done against all obnoxious influences, moral, psychic and physical, that are to be met with wherever a crowding of people conduces to dangerous intermingling of the individual auras; this includes protection against the influence of the world thought-currents, and against what is known as Vampirism. As Mrs. Besant expresses it (Lucifer, XVIII, 222): "We often come in contact with people who unconsciously vampirize their neighbors" — that is to say, "who act as a sponge, absorb and drain the vitality out of them" — and "any one who is sensitive and finds himself very exhausted by such a drain" — either from surrounding persons or when attending so-called "seances" — "will do wisely to protect himself by the will formation of an auric shell," such as was mentioned above;
c) Against some direful chances of after death, by bringing into general use some more reliable signs of the positive cessation of physical life, so as to prevent the horrid possibilities of premature burial.
Here, however, it must be understood that the idea of self-protection through one's aura, in crowds, does not need to be carried out too far nor too selfishly. In effect, while some evil  may and will be absorbed, especially if our tendencies are predisposed to it, yet we may also meet with and absorb good, helpful influences, as well as benefit others by the radiation of the good in ourselves. It is a fact known to science that persons kept in solitary confinement actually lose force — mental and physical — through not having contact with any other living magnetism. Nature seems to have made it imperative that we should actually exchange influences and improve by contact with our fellow-creatures; and this may be one of the things that the Bible meant, "when God saw that it was not good for man to be alone." But the illustration of this fact, obtained through the knowledge of the Aura, is also one proof more of how necessary it is, for each of us, to try to live morally and unselfishly, and how much responsibility each individual has unto the whole race, since — merely through our living auras — we may, and we actually do HELP or POISON all those who come near us.
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