Soon after this, for various reasons, I left the paper and went to Petersburg.
There, in February and March 1915, I gave public lectures on my travels in India. The titles of these lectures were “In Search of the Miraculous” and “The Problems of Death”. In these lectures, which were to serve as an introduction to a book on my travels it was my intention to write, I said that in India the “miraculous” was not sought where it ought to be sought, that all ordinary ways were useless, and that India guarded her secrets better than many people supposed; but that the “miraculous”did exist there and was indicated by many things which people passed by without realizing their hidden sense and meaning or without knowing how to approach them. I again had “schools” in mind.
In spite of the war my lectures evoked very considerable interest. There were more than a thousand people at each in the Alexandrovsky Hall of the Petersburg Town Duma. I received many letters, people came to see me and I felt that on the basis of a “search for the miraculous” it would be possible to unite together a very large number of people who were no longer able to swallow the customary forms of lying and living in lying.
After Easter I went to give these lectures in Moscow. Among people whom I met during these lectures there were two, one a musician and the other a sculptor, who very soon began to speak to me about a group in Moscow which was engaged in various “occult” investigation and experiments and directed by a certain G., a Caucasian Greek, the very ‘Hindu’, So I understood, to whom belonged the ballet scenario mentioned in the newspaper I had come across three or four months before this. I must confess that what these two people told me about this group and what took place in it; all sorts of self suggested wonders, interested me very little. I had heard tales exactly like this many times before and I had formed a definite opinion concerning them.
Ladies who suddenly see “eyes” in their room which float in the air and fascinate them and which they follow from street to street and at the end arrive at the house of a certain Oriental to whom the eyes belong. Or people who, in the presence of the same Oriental, suddenly feel he is looking right through them, seeing all their feelings, thoughts and desires, and they have a strange sensation in their legs and cannot move and then fall into his power to such an extent that he can make them do everything he desires, even from a distance. All this and many other stories of the same sort had always seemed to me to be simply bad fiction. People invent miracles for themselves and invent exactly what is expected from them. It is a mixture of superstition, self suggestion and defective thinking and according to my observation, these stories never appear without a certain collaboration on the part of the men to whom they refer.
So that, in the light of previous experience, it was only after the persistent efforts of one of my new acquaintances, M, that I agreed to mere G and have a talk with him.