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Autobiography of Alice A. Bailey - Chapter I
When I was a few months old I was taken to Montreal, Canada, where my father was one of the engineers engaged in building the Victoria Bridge over the St. Lawrence River. There my only sister was born. I have only two vital memories of that time. One was managing to get into serious trouble with my parents because I enticed my small sister into an enormous trunk in which our many, many toys were kept. We were lost for quite a while and nearly suffocated, [21] for the lid shut down on us. The second was that I made my first attempt to commit suicide! I just did not find life worth living. The experience of my five years made me feel that things were futile so I decided that if I bumped down the stone kitchen steps from top to bottom (and they were very steep) I would probably be dead at the end. I did not succeed. Bridget, the cook, picked me up and carried me (battered and bruised) upstairs where I met much comforting - but no understanding.

As I went on in life, I made two other efforts to put an end to things, only to discover it is a very difficult thing to commit suicide. All of these attempts were made before I was fifteen. I tried to smother myself with sand when I was around eleven years old, but sand in one's mouth, nose and eyes is not comfortable and I decided to postpone the happy day. The last time, I tried to drown myself in a river in Scotland. But again the instinct to self-preservation was too strong. Since then I have not been very interested in suicide, though I have always understood the impulse.

This constantly recurring misery was perhaps the first indication of the mystical trend in my life which later motivated all my thinking and activities. Mystics are people with a tremendous sense of dualism. They are ever seekers, aware of something which must be sought; they are always lovers, searching for something worthy of their love; they are ever conscious of that with which they must seek unity. They are governed by the heart and by feeling. At that time I did not like the "feel" of life. I did not appreciate what the world seemed to be or had to offer. I was convinced that better things lay elsewhere. I was morbid, full of self-pity, through loneliness, exceedingly introspective (which sounds better than self-centered) and convinced that no one liked me. Looking back, why on earth should they? I cannot blame them. I gave them nothing of myself. I was [22] preoccupied all the time with my reaction to people and circumstances. I was the unhappy, self-dramatized center of my little world. This sense of better things somewhere and a capacity to "feel" into people and circumstances and to know often what they were thinking or experiencing was the beginning of the mystical phase of my life and out of it emerged much good that I later found.

Thus I began consciously the age old search for the world of meaning which must be found, if any answer to the perplexities of life and the sorrows of humanity is to be discovered. Progress is rooted in the mystical consciousness. A good occultist must be, first of all, a practicing mystic (or do I mean a practical mystic - perhaps both) and the development of the heart response and the power to feel (and to feel accurately) should naturally and normally precede the mental approach and the power to know. Surely spiritual instinct must precede spiritual knowledge, just as the instincts of the animal, the child and of the undeveloped person always precede intellectual perception. Surely vision must come before the mode to make the vision a reality is mastered. Surely questioning and a blind feeling after God must antedate the conscious treading of "The Way," which leads to revelation.

Perhaps the time will come when our adolescent boys and girls will receive some attention along the lines of capitalizing on their normal, mystical tendencies. These tendencies are so often dismissed as adolescent fancies which will ultimately be outgrown. To me, they indicate parental and tuitional opportunities. This period could be utilized in a most constructive, directional manner. The orientation of the life could be determined and much later miseries offset, if the cause and the purpose of the questioning, of the inarticulate longings, and of the visionary aspirations were grasped by those responsible for young people. It could be [23] explained to them that a process was working in them which was normal and right, which was the result of past lives of experience, which indicated that the mental side of their nature should receive attention. Above all, the soul, the inner spiritual man, could be indicated, as seeking to make its presence felt. The universality of the process should be emphasized, thus dismissing the loneliness, and the false sense of isolation and peculiarity which are such disturbing features of the experience. I believe that this method of capitalizing on the adolescent urges and dreams will later receive more attention. I regard the silly adolescent miseries through which I passed as simply the opening of the mystical phase in my life which - in time - gave place to the occult phase, with its greater assurance, its understanding and its unalterable convictions.

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