A COMMON PRINCIPLE
Whether in China, Europe, or the United States, and whether it is breathing exercises, asceticism, meditations, hypnosis, predictions, telepathy, or pathetism, they all cultivate the inward power and its expressions. I think you all have heard of many miraculous things done through hypnotism. In China there are many fortune-tellers who have done many things that we are all familiar with. Every day they can only see a few clients. Their skill comes from much cultivation and exercise. Their fortune-tellings are surprisingly accurate. Some other techniques developed by Taoism and Buddhism also perform miraculous things. Although there are many counterfeits, there are also many true supernatural manifestations. There is no other explanation except that these people have either stumbled upon a way, or are instructed by evil spirits, to release the power to perform extraordinary acts through certain exercises. Ordinary men do not know that this power is within them. Those with some scientific knowledge know that this power is within them, but they do not know where it lies. We, who have been taught by God, know that this power is the latent power within man’s soul. The power became fallen when Adam fell and is now locked up in the flesh. This power is fallen, and God has ordained that man should no longer use this power. However, Satan likes to develop this latent power and make man realize the many riches within him. Satan makes man think that he is God and thus fulfills his promise that man "shall be as gods" (Gen. 3:5). Consequently, man worships himself, and indirectly Satan, and loses his position before God. Therefore, Satan is behind all study of psychology. He is trying his best to utilize the latent power of the soul to fulfill his purpose. All those who try to develop their soulish power cannot avoid being utilized by and being close to the evil spirits.
Mr. Pember indicated, from another point of view, that once men can do this they can communicate with the devil. He was very knowledgeable in this aspect and had many such experiences. He said that there are two methods by which men can communicate with the devil. The first is to stir up the latent power, and the second is to be possessed by the demons. Today we will pay special attention to the first way which is to stir up the latent power. Mr. Pember said that very few people can stir up their latent power. Many people cannot do this because this requires the soul to be in control of the body and be freed from the control of the body. This is exactly what we have said. We have studied the Buddhists’ contemplation, meditation, etc.; the Taoists’ practice of body-relaxation, meditation, breathing exercise, etc.; the hypnotists’ cogitation, mind-concentration, etc.; the "silent sitting" of the Common Improvement Club; and other kinds of breathing, meditation, intoning, silence, mind- concentrating, thought-denial, and hundreds of other similar activities. Although their knowledge and religious beliefs are different, the principle is the same. What they are doing is nothing but bringing men’s disordered minds, wavering emotions, and feeble wills to an empty state and, at the same time, subduing the outward flesh. In this way, it becomes possible to release the latent power of the soul. The reason the latent power of the soul is not manifested in everyone is that not everyone can break down the barriers of his flesh or bring his psychological condition to a completely void state. People today are simply developing the inner latent power.
When I was in Singapore a few years ago, I met an Indian friend who was doing a great deal of work there. He said that he had a Hindu friend who could reveal the secrets of others and that this friend was right every time. One day he invited his Hindu friend home to try him out. His friend was able to name everything stored in the drawer. Later he asked his Hindu friend to wait outside while he wrapped a very important thing in cloth and paper and put it into a box. Then he put the box into the drawer and locked the drawer. When his friend came back, he was able to accurately say what was inside the drawer. This is the function of the soulish power; it can see through all kinds of physical obstacles.
Mrs. Penn-Lewis published the following in the Overcomer magazine:
I once met a man in North India, who had access to the highest circles of society in Simla, the summer seat of the Government of India, who told me one evening of his connection with the Mahatmas in India and in other countries of Asia. He said that he knew of great political events weeks and months before they came to pass. "I do not depend for news on telegrams and newspapers. They only record past events; we know events before they take place," he said. How can a man in London know the events happening in India, and vice-versa? It was explained to me that it was through "soul-force" being projected by men who knew the secret of the Mahatmas. (Overcomer magazine for 1921-23, quoted in Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis’s Soul and Spirit. Poole, Dorset, England, Overcomer Literature Trust, 1968, pp. 55-56.)
Mr. Pember also said that many Buddhists could see other people’s minds, subdue evil spirits, perform works through soulish power, accelerate the growth of plants, quench fires, and subdue wild beasts. They could speak to others outside of themselves and even touch others. They could exhibit their spiritual bodies in an exact likeness of that of the flesh, and even create the likeness of physical objects, as if creating something out of nothing. However, a monk with this kind of ability must go through long periods of training.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 10: The Present Testimony (3), Chapter 9, by Watchman Nee)