Psychic powers, miracles, ecstasy, apparitions, visions
... an apparently miraculous fact proves nothing in itself, certainly, but it proves everything when it can be placed positively in connection with a traditional spirituality and is accompanied by criteria which guarantee its authenticity. [Gnosis, Divine Wisdom, page 43].
Even miracles, assuming they occur, cannot constitute a proof, given the wonders of magic. It is true that the moderns deny these wonders as well as miracles, but we mention the arguments nevertheless since, in the opinion of the moderns, miracles would prove nothing "if they existed", since they can be imitated. (1).
(1) Which is not the case, rigorously speaking, for the miracle requires a context which in reality makes it inimitable, otherwise it would have no reason for existing; besides, magic is far from being able to counterfeit all miracles, so much so that the argument in question is exceedingly weak. (From the Divine to the human, p. 117).
Those who are in the grip of illusion do not know, and do not wish to know, that the devil can give them sound inspirations with the sole aim of gaining their confidence, so as to be able finally to lead them into error. and that he can tell them the truth nine times the more easily to deceive them on the tenth occasion, and that he deceives above all those who are seeking the confirmation or fulfillment of illusions to which they are attached.(1). This applies to visions as well as to auditions or other messages.
(1) The satanic origin of a message is immaterial when it is beneficent, but the devil will give such a message only to those whom he expects to deceive thereafter, but for which -- to say the least -- he would have no interest in doing so. In this general context let us recall the fact that according to certain ancient maxims which are well known, "heresy resides in the will and not in the intelligence", and that "to err is human but to persevere in error is diabolical".
One particular of grace is ecstasy. Here too one must distinguish between the true and the false, the spiritual and the morbid -- even the demonic. A very rare and, at the same time, most paradoxical exception is accidental ecstasy, something which, in this context, we cannot pass over in silence. It may happen that someone entirely profane has a real ecstatic experience, without understanding how and why; such an experience is unforgettable and has a more or less profound effect upon the character of the person concerned. This is a matter of a cosmic accident of which the causes lie far distant in the individual's destiny, or in his karma -- merits acquired in the past and before birth -- as Hindus and Buddhists would say. But it would be a serious mistake to see in such an experience a spiritual acquisition of a conscious and active character, for such an event can only be a call to an authentic way on which one starts again at the beginning: quaerite et invenietis.
Among real or apparent graces there are also "powers" such as those of healing, prevision, suggestion, telepathy, divination and the performance of minor miracles. These powers may indeed be direct gifts from Heaven, but in this case they are related to some degree of sanctity; otherwise they are only natural, however rare and out of the ordinary. Now in the opinion of the most diverse spiritual authorities one should treat them with great caution, paying no attention to them, particularly because the devil may be involved in this and has an interest in so involving himself. Gratuitous powers may, a priori, indicate election on the part of Heaven, but they can also cause the downfall of those who become attached to them to the detriment of the purgative asceticism which all spirituality demands. Many heretics and false spiritual masters have started by becoming the dupes of some power with which nature had endowed them.
The question of knowing which detail it is that impugns the authenticity of a celestial apparition depends either on the nature of things or else on a particular religious perspective. That is to say there are elements which in themselves, and from every religious or spiritual point of view, are incompatible with celestial apparitions ... [To speak of these] discordant elements which are intrinsically incompatible with a celestial manifestation, there are first of all -- and quite obviously -- elements of ugliness or grotesque features, not only in the actual form of the apparition but also in its movements or even simply in the surroundings of the vision; then there is the question of speech, both from the point of view of content and of style, for Heaven neither lies nor gossips. (1) "God is beautiful and He loves beauty", the Prophet said. Loving beauty, He also loves dignity, He who combines beauty (jamal) with majesty (jalal). "God is love", and love, if it does not exclude holy wrath, assuredly excludes ugliness and pettiness.
(1) Which puts paid to a whole series of apparitions or "messages" of which one hears talk in the second half of the 20th century.
A decisive criterion of authenticity, on the basis of necessary extrinsic criteria, is the spiritual or miraculous efficacy of the apparition. If nothing that is spiritually positive results from the vision, it is of doubtful validity in proportion to the imperfection of the visionary, without necessarily being false even in such a case as this, for the motives of Heaven may escape men; if, on the contrary, the visionary draws a permanent grace from the vision so that he becomes a better man, (1) or if the vision is the source of miracles without being accompanied by any discordant elements, there can be no doubt that this is a case of a true celestial apparition. A fructibus eorum cognoscetis eos. [Esoterism as Principle and as Way, pages 211-218]
(1) Which either modifies his habitual behavior or leads to a change in his character, the former being an extrinsic result, the latter an intrinsic one; in any case the one is not entirely independent of the other.
(1) Such as Mormonism, Bahaism, the Ahmadism of Kadyan, and all the "new religions" and other pseudo-spiritualities which proliferate in today's world.