THE PATH OF ATTAINMENT
D. N. Dunlop
George. S. Arundale,
THE PATH PUBLISHING COMPANY
Oakley House, Bloomsbury St. London, W.C.
The H.P.B Lodge of The Theosophical Society is to be congratulated both on the publication of the addresses gathered together in the present volume and on the choice of lecturer to deliver them. Mr. Dunlop asks us to remember in these times of stress and turmoil that the great Fathers of the world watch over us as They have ever done, that there is open to us the same ancient and narrow way to communion with Them as has existed from time immemorial, testimony to the existence of which may be found in the Scriptures of every world religion. We are told of the existence of Masters, our Elder Brethren, Those who have learned the lessons we are learning now, and Who have dedicated Themselves to the task of guiding us along the road Their feet have already trodden. We are told of some of the conditions whereby we may become apprenticed to these Great Ones so as to learn more swiftly the lessons appropriate to our class in the school of life in the world. We are told of the great expansions of consciousness - called Initiations - marking our progress in apprenticeship, expansions of consciousness which involve an ever-increasing, active understanding of the unity of all life.
Great truths these, and perhaps only for the few who dare to climb to the summit of the mountain by the rough, little-trodden path, rather than follow the well-beaten road of far longer - though easier ascent. But some of us hope that the trials through which we are passing are giving to many the courage to dare. We are beginning to long to see the summit, at least to be reassured of its existence. We had, indeed, almost forgotten the goal. Now we are in the mists, that we may once again bethink ourselves of a summit whose attractive power depends upon its being veiled from time to time from constant though oft unseeing gaze.
Out of the mists comes the voice of one who tells us what has been known to the wise of all time, and reminds us of what all the world will some day realize.
As one who also has seen the way, not unlike the path herein described, allow me to endorse his invitation to tread that path. The way is steep, the obstacles rough and piercing. The feet indeed do bleed, but the heart of the wanderer rejoices in all sacrifice that brings him to the radiant sunshine of eternal Life.
George. S. Arundale,
General Secretary of The Theosophical Society in England and Wales.
book contains three addresses, originally delivered extemporaneously before
The H.P.B. Lodge of The Theosophical Society at 19 Tavistock Square,
W.C., in October, November, and December 1915. I have been urgently requested
to publish the reports made by a stenographer, and have, therefore, hurriedly
revised them for press. The substance, however, remains unchanged, and I sincerely
hope that readers will find suggestions in the ideas presented, and will pursue
their investigations by studying the works of H.P. Blavatsky and examining their
philosophical and scientific basis.
ADEPTS, MASTERS AND MAHATMAS
Before I begin the subject of the address tonight I wish to pay tribute to H.P.Blavatsky, who was the founder of The Theosophical Society, assisted by Colonel Olcott and one or two others. Anything I know on the subject of Adepts, Masters and Mahatmas I first learned from her.
The Secret Doctrine and Max Mueller
In the early days of this Society a great deal of ridicule was heaped on Madame Blavatsky by the public and also by some members of the Society because of her frequent reference to Masters and Mahatmas. The newspapers were full of comments of rather a jeering nature, and Max Muller, the famous Oriental scholar, who was particularly interested in the subjects which The Theosophical Society was discussing at that time, got himself into rather a difficult position over the matter. Probably some of you will remember a statement he once made to the effect that the stanzas upon which The Secret Doctrine is based were not discoverable anywhere in Eastern Literature, and that, therefore, they must be an invention of Madame Blavatsky herself. His attention was drawn to the fact that if this were so it would prove her a much greater individual that she made any claim to be. On investigation it amounted to this: that if she were the writer of the stanzas, she was practically a Master herself.
Influence of H.P. Blavatsky
Since its formation The Theosophical Society , like other movements of a similar character, has split up into various sections, and, as also in most other movements, the differences have generally arisen around personalities: some supported Mrs. Besant, others Mr. Judge; some believed in Mr. Leadbeater, others disbelieved. And so, through the years during which the Society has been in existence, it has divided up into various little Theosophical Societies, the largest of them being the one of which Mrs. Besant is now President. In my opinion the one outstanding fact in connection with these various Societies is this: they all look upon Madame Blavatsky with the same reverence and love. Although they have had differences of opinion in other directions, they all have the same feeling with regard to H.P.Blavatsky. That, I think, speaks volumes for her influence and her position.
You may wonder why I speak about Madame Blavatsky at the beginning of an address of this kind. My explanation is simply this: I believe that the personality known as H.P. Blavatsky represented a consciousness which I will explain later as the Master-Consciousness. She had many human failings, as all great persons have, which endeared her to her friends; and those who knew her most intimately were perhaps more interested in her and felt all the greater reverence for her because of the peculiarities of her personal temperament.
Now she stated, and I repeat the statement, that in the last twenty-five years of the nineteenth century the spiritual brotherhood of Masters, Adepts and Mahatmas made an effort to reinvigorate and reinforce the spiritual philosophy of the ages, and selected various instruments (persons and movements) in the world, and the object of working through them and drawing the attention of humanity to the ancient teachings concerning the soul of man; and she declared that she herself was an agent chosen for that particular work.
In order to understand the question which is the subject of the address, it is necessary to regard it from the point of view of cosmic evolution. It is not sufficient to rely entirely on the evidence of individuals, unless that evidence is supported by a rational study of philosophy and religion, of cosmology and cosmogony. The study of cosmogony and of the philosophy of evolution enables one to see quite clearly the need for Adepts, Masters and Mahatmas in the cosmic scheme. In fact, it is impossible to have any rational and satisfactory explanation of the process of evolution without the acceptance, at least as possibilities, of such Beings; their existence appears, indeed, to be in the nature of things. The development of this planet is not a separate process detached from that of the cosmic scheme generally. The human evolution which is taking place upon this globe is part of a great scheme of evolution which embraces many globes and many systems of globes, and unless one is able to take a cosmic view of evolution, it is impossible to have a proper perspective of one’s own place in the scheme, or of the relative position of such great figures as Pythagoras, Plato, Apollonius, Buddha, Jesus, and all the other teachers who have appeared upon the pages of history.
Cosmic evolution, from the microscopic cell to the greatest planetary system, proceeds at every moment according to a definite Law and in obedience to Intelligence, which in its essence is Wisdom and Love. Every individualized Centre of Consciousness has a distinct relationship to the Substance in which “the plan” is being carefully and marvellously carried out in every detail. The plan is in man; nature furnishes the material by which it is expressed, from the “huge first nothing” to the organized and highly diversified scheme in which man finds himself and in which various hierarchies of beings have their place and fulfil their functions.
The following diagram is taken from The Secret Doctrine.
The triangle at the top represents the three higher planes of the Cosmos in its septenary aspect, the invisible half of the whole sphere; the manifested half begins with Globe A. I wish particularly to draw attention to Globe D which stands by itself below the line of the third plane on the manifested side of the circle. Globe D according to this system represents the earth, and it stands in opposition to the triangle at the top, by itself, outside the circle. That explains why the physical world and the physical body are said to be the bodies or vehicles of the highest principle, namely, Atma or Spirit.
The theory is that evolution takes place on these globes around the circle, and that Globe D is the turning-point of human evolution. At the beginning the progress of the life-impulse is downwards. “Man” comes out into expression when a new day of activity begins on what is here marked Globe A and then comes into expression on Globe B; then seven times round Globe B, and so on, until Globe D is reached. According to this explanation, the most ancient in the world and corroborated by practically all systems of cosmology, we have passed the middle point in this cycle of evolution. As the life-wave descends it becomes more and more immersed in matter, and on Globe D it reaches the densest point; as it proceeds to Globes E and F the matter becomes less dense, and consciousness, thought and desire become more defined until humanity reaches Globe G.
In this process of evolution it must be borne in mind that on each of the planes of manifestation in the archetypal world, the intellectual world, the formative world and the physical world, there are Centres of Intelligence who dominate the particular forms that belong to each of those places or worlds. Every world has its own peculiar condition of substance or matter; it has also, existing in that substance or mater, entities peculiar to itself, who are instruments in the work of evolution as it proceeds upon that plane. Globe A is the one upon which the whole plan of evolution is outlined, where Intelligence dawns and begins its operations in matter. You remember the words in Genesis: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was Light.” Intelligence-Light - was in operation simultaneously with the beginning of the planetary system. “The Word” of God is the language of creation, and we must consider the whole universal system if we wish to have a complete understanding of what that language means. In the beginning was the breath-body and the breath-race. Madame Blavatsky says this is an undying race and exists throughout the whole cycle of globes [The reason for this is obvious if we consider the nature of Life and the revelations of modern Science] The second race is the life-race; the third, the form-race; the fifth, the race of purified desire; the sixth, pre-eminently the thought-race, where thought per se is the dominant factor; and the seventh race expresses complete individuality, as far as the limitations of this particular system of evolution will permit it to manifest. These races are in existence now, and always have been. They manifest in seven great root-races, each including seven sub-races, so that there is time and opportunity for unfolding the perfection potential within each race through the various forms which a planetary system like this provides.
We now come more directly to the subject of the address. In the literature that is published on mystical subjects there is a great deal of confusion with regard to the use of the terms Adepts, Masters, Mahatmas. These terms are used indiscriminately today by many schools of pseudo-mysticism, and indeed it is very difficult for the student of any school to clearly understand the function of the Adept, the Master and the Mahatma in human evolution without coming unduly under the influence of authority and undermining to a great extent his individual responsibility. “The best and most important teacher is one’s own seventh Principle centered in the sixth” are words attributed to a Master, and, whatever their source, carry their own conviction. The greatest possible advantage may be derived from a study of the whole problem of Masters in terms of principles; by so doing the student may be able to exercise discrimination at each stage and to “hold fast to that which is good.”
Adepts, Masters and Mahatmas are basic principles in the plan of evolution, and they operate intelligently in all the worlds each in his own place and in his own way. When similar principles are active in any man of the race, he may be said to meet the Adept, Master or Mahatma, as the case may be, but he will regard the principles operating, and not the form or substance in which they manifest objectively. The conscious principle which links the physical and psychic worlds may be named the Adepts; the conscious principle which links the psychic and mental worlds may be designated the Master; and the word Mahatma best describes the conscious principle which links the mental world to that which we term the spiritual. It is these intelligent, conscious principles in organized operation throughout the four worlds, acting on relatively unintelligent matter or substance, which bring the phenomenal worlds into expression from out the noumenal world, and turn “the wheels” ceaselessly, until that which is manifest passes again into the unmanifest. They are all intelligent agents of universal laws.
The four Worlds
The Sons of the Race who have been articulate, who have been free to mirror the images in the mind of humanity, have spoken in different symbols of four worlds or spheres in which man lives more or less consciously, according to the relationship which exists between himself, as Consciousness, and the matter of his bodies. These are the chemical, the physical, the psychic, the mental and the spiritual world; or, in other words, the sex-world, the form-world, the life-world and the breath-world. Involution and evolution are complementary processes; the latter begins with desire in the form-world, continues with thought in the life-world, and completes Individuality in the spiritual or breath-world. The physical world balances the spiritual, mental and psychic worlds. Man, in the physical world, may not be conscious of life in other worlds, and similarly he may live in either the psychic, mental and spiritual worlds, and only be aware of the one in which he is conscious. But, as each world represents definite principles, and as man contains these worlds within himself, even if he be not consciously aware of their existence, he is continually affected by the laws of Being, expressed as principles in each of the worlds. The legends tell that the task before us is to build out of the substance of each world a body in which we can live and function consciously and intelligently; they declare further that this must be done while in the physical body, so that consciousness may be conscious of itself from the densest world to the “throne of God.”
Distinctions in terms
The term Master may be used to mean an Adept and vice versa. But students who enter more thoroughly into the study of occultism understand the difference between the three classes of Masters as distinct from Man. The Adept is a master on the psychic plane, the Master is a master on the mental plane, including the psychic, and the Mahatma is a master on the Spiritual, mental, psychic and physical planes; he has complete control over the whole world of consciousness within the limitation of manifestation. Some persons seem to think that power is best exercised in freedom; they imagine that when power is “free” it is entirely unfettered and without limitation. A deeper understanding shows that power is never power unless under control of limitation. If you cut an electric circuit the current ceases to flow; the limitation of the circuit is necessary in order to have efficient expression of the power. And in the cosmic scheme power is everywhere manifested through limitation; in fact it is the very limitation which makes it possible for power to express itself. If it were universally diffused in the sense that there were no circuit, no limitation, it could not be experienced and it could not be named or described; but, because there is a focus, because there is a circuit, because there is differentiation and definition we are able to speak of it as power.
Staff of Mercury
The Caduceus or Staff of Mercury is a symbol of the Path of Initiation, and its construction indicates how the Beings whom we call Adepts, Masters and Mahatmas have succeeded in reaching conscious freedom, within the limitations which condition self-consciousness. They have taken the straight path to knowledge. Instead of going round in a long and labourious process through the various divisions, races, sub-races, globes and so on, they have cut the road short by intensity of experience, and taken the direct and difficult upward path, the way of the Cross, to what in the Christian system is known as Golgotha. Golgotha is a state; when it is achieved, when the condition of full illumination is attained, the auric emanation is manifest as the wings of the dove. The Caduceus illustrates this direct process spoken of by practically all the mystical philosophers, and it has, for many ages, been used as a symbol of the progress of the Soul along the pathway of initiation.
As I have indicated, humanity has reached Globe D, the outermost point of evolution as far as our substantial, dense form is concerned, and, therefore, I believe that in the future the form will improve in beauty and grace if the incoming races act in accordance with the principles to which they belong. When the desires of men are pure, when each one has identified his personal interest with the interests of humanity, then desire per se will be purified and consciously used for purposes of racial evolution; a race of true thinkers will develop and begin to exercise its functions. At present practically all our thinking is only a reflection of true thought, because human beings seek reality through many hindrances. The desire and the thought of the complete individual will have gradually more and more control over the forms, so that future races will appear under conditions entirely different from the present.
Have you considered the meaning of the word Mahatma? Ma represents the individual ego or mind; Mahat the universal mind; Mahatma indicates that the individual mind is united with the universal mind, while, at the same time, each completely realizes itself. In that state of consciousness which is represented by the Mahatma it may be said that ideals, or the eternal ideas, in the archetypal sense, are expressed. It is the realm of pure ideas, the true thought-world. Then there is what we call, in our theosophical classification, the astral world, that world of form in which the plastic model is prepared which begins to reflect the true ideas of the world of thought. In the physical or chemical world these thoughts are reflected objectively in the things we see around us. The physical body is familiar to all of us; the desires are indefinite, but the form is quite definite.
We must find terms with meanings to describe men who can function as completely in the other worlds as we can in the physical. The term Adept may be correctly applied to the man who has a conscious life in a definite form in the physical world. This world, like the physical, is a sense-world, a world of form-desire, and in it there are degrees of culture and position. The desires are clearly defined, and the true Adept is not deceived; he can control the plastic forms and compel them to action in any direction he chooses. He is interested in phenomena, and the result of the action of his desire on the forms in this world of emotion may lead him into strange situations. The Adept has an astral or desire-body, in which he is able to function in the psychic world, as we can in the physical. He controls thought, and therefore, the forms of thought, so that an Adept is a Master within these limits of the physical and psychic, or astral world.
A Master has a definite thought-body, in which he is able to function in the thought-world and to control the life-currents, free from the desire-body and free from the influences of the senses which act through the physical body. He is master of life, and shapes the ideals of life by his thought. By the power of thought he controls desire and may live free from the influence of his psychic and physical bodies, and use both as he wills. He is not deceived by the images in the reflecting ether of the astral or psychic world, but is interested in the realities behind the reflected images. He uses the “earth’s words” more than audible words, and exercises his power so that “all merges toward the presentation of the unspoken meanings of the earth, toward him who sings the songs of the truths of the body and of the earth, toward him who makes the dictionaries of words that print cannot touch.” He views all according to the amplitude of the earth, and appears when the materials are prepared and ready, enclosing all, faithful to all. He has balanced the sex-nature of the physical body, “knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things.”
The Mahatma is man perfect within the circle of our evolution. He has completed evolution, and acts freely in the spiritual world, fully conscious as an individual being. At the dawn of our system He began to work for the perfection of man, and at the completion of Globe G He will realize that aim. Thus He has anticipated the evolution of the whole human race. He can use at will the thought-body, the psychic body, and the physical body, and move freely in the “breath-world” of the spirit as an immortal individual. He fully comprehends the law of all the worlds of form and works and the law on all levels, from the unmanifest to the manifest, from the hidden core of the atom to its circumference; the eternal laws are an expression of His ideas. The Principles on which He acts consciously are universal in their operation and include the whole manifested universe. He is free from the necessity of rebirth. He does not appear, however, as a Mahatma among men, nor seek in any way the worship or adoration of human beings.
I have already said that in this great system of evolution each of these orders of Beings is essential to the whole. They assist humanity and use the elementary forces in nature. They are intelligent agents of the universal law, and, in my opinion, the whole doctrine of reincarnation would be meaningless without them. What is the purpose of recurring births upon this or any other globe unless there is an idea of this kind before us? Unless we see some purpose the whole thing is meaningless. As an indication of the qualities of characteristics of consciousness in each of these types, you may take Jesus as a Mahatma, Pythagoras as a very good type of the Master acting in the world, and Apollonius as an illustration of an Adept.
Schools and lodges
The organizations of Adepts and Masters are usually divided into lodges, schools, degrees, hierarchies, and brotherhoods. According to most of the literature on the subject, the lodge is the place of meeting, the school indicates the work upon which they are engaged, the degree determines the rank attained or capacity exercised, the hierarchy represents the race to which they belong, and the brotherhood the relationship between all the lodges, schools, degrees, and hierarchies. It is also stated that many groups of Adepts have a teacher, and, organized in schools according to degrees, they are instructed in the control of the desires and also in the direction of the elementary forces and powers of nature. Masters perform the same function in the mysteries of the mind in the mental world. The brotherhood of humanity includes the brotherhood of each hierarchy, and exists in every world. It is composed of those who think and act in terms of the whole race.
Now it is constantly asked: Where are these Beings? Why do they not perform some miracle by which we may be assured that they exist? My reply is that their functions indicate their likely habitations. To maintain the balance of the forces of evolution on this planet it is necessary that some such Centres of consciousness should inhabit it. We know that we like rooms for study to be quiet; that it is necessary to place observatories on mountain-tops away from disturbing vibrations; and that caves have been used to protect people from certain planetary influences. We also read, in the legends of the world, of races living in the interior of the earth. The place of habitation of these is chosen with regard to the work they have undertaken, and the assistance of natural forces which may be required for carrying out their designs is more readily obtained by a suitable choice of place. They work with a full knowledge of the law of evolution; the rise and fall of a civilization is known to them, as the hours on the face of the clock are known to us. They understand when it is wise to work through and with some of their agents among men, and they arrange their appearances in such a way that it is necessary to develop intuition to discern who they are and what their business is. The majority of men who have not developed a corresponding consciousness in themselves might pass a Master in the street and not recognize him as such. His physical form would probably be precisely the same as the other physical forms among which he lived, and unless you knew him by his Light, unless you had developed a state of consciousness that would respond, in a vibratory sense, to the vibration coming from him or her, then indeed the Master would not be known by you.
As I said, we read of races living in certain parts of the interior of the earth, and of caves that lead to temples and halls and vast spaces. I can only speak of them as dreams myself, for I have not yet been able to visit them in the physical body; but in dreams I have entered some of these temples in the interior of the earth, places where there are huge libraries and individuals to answer almost every conceivable question, Beings who are aware of all that is going on on the earth’s surface, and who have pronounced ideas with regard to the relative importance of the events that seem to be so tremendously tragic for mankind. There are places in forests, in mountains, in caves, and in many other physical centres where cosmic influences can be used to the best advantage.
Those individuals or centres of consciousness who have attained liberation are quite unconcerned about any agitation for evidence of their existence. They know that by the unfoldment of the God-consciousness in man he will reach their state. When we have attained even in a minor degree to the consciousness represented by an Adept, or Master or Mahatma, we shall find ourselves functioning in the spheres in which those Beings live. Our state of consciousness determines our “place.” Only to the Master-Consciousness can the Master be known, only by the Master-Mind can the Master be seen and understood and realized. The actual physical appearance of a Master among ordinary mortals would only create confusion, and probably stimulate vibrations which most individuals would not be able to regulate.
Another question often asked is: When will the disciple know the Master? Some think they will meet Him after death, that when they leave this physical plane they will come face to face with Him. It should be remembered that the astral world is full of images of the Masters. You will probably find hundreds of persons who have seen the vision of a body representing the state of consciousness equivalent in their minds to the person of a Master. They have seen a thought-form; but that does not necessarily mean that they have actually seen and come into conscious communication with a Master. Such appearances are frequent in the astral world, where symbolic images and forms of many Adepts and Masters may be found. These appearances are deceptive; they are less than the shadows of realities. The play of the thought-energy of many thousands of people upon these images may set them in motion and cause them to become objective. Messages and definite directions as to work may even be given, and the “voice of the Master” parodied. Mere sentiment and “religious gush” are not within the Master-Mind. Persons with psychic power may use these astral images and appearances to help on work for some end to which they are partial. Such images often take the form of a picture of a physical appearance stated to be that of a Master, and, if pictured in meditation by students, they may be used to communicate impressions from the higher principles of the student, or they may be infilled by other principles leading to confusion of the mind and often to emotional innovations which give a pleasant stimulus to the otherwise ordinary life of the student, as he feels he is making progress. Reaction, however, results after a time, and the last state is worse than the first. It was for this reason that H.P. Blavatsky wrote of the Master in The Voice of the Silence: “Allow no image of the senses to get between its light and thine.” Most of the forms of Masters are thought-forms made temporarily visible by increased vibration. The path leading to the Master involves a distinct knowledge of noetic action in a high grade of substance. The “Presence” cannot be described in terms of the senses. “The spiritual is its own proof. Only to Consciousness can Consciousness be known.”
One criticism often made in regard to the idea of Masters and their influence in human affairs is that from it arises the danger of authority being too readily accepted. Mankind is always crying out for leaders, for those who can be looked upon as authorities, and it seems to me inevitable that some men should endeavour to make use of the idea of vicarious atonement which has so long held sway among religious organizations. Instead of doing the work himself by following slowly along the path outlined by all the great sages and seers of the world, instead of learning gradually to master his desires and to control his thought, and so to function in the superphysical world consciously in touch with the Beings who belong to it, man desires rather to become acquainted with the physical persons of these Beings. I believe that if the service of humanity be entered into unselfishly by men and women, they may, sometimes, to their own surprise, “meet” a Master, or an Adept, or even a Mahatma, because those who work impersonally for the good of humanity as a whole are ready at all moments to assist a particular consciousness which is related to the same undertaking.
The work of masters
The enterprise may be called the redemption of humanity, the physical achievement of individual Consciousness, in which the form will respond to pure desire, and itself be a complete embodiment of that state which comprehends the perfection of the whole plan. There are very few who are able to sustain such consciousness for more than a few moments, but in it all the bitterness generated by one nation against another disappears, and the seer is able to live in the Consciousness which sees humanity as one Being, working forward toward one great purpose, manifesting and functioning, through the cycles, in types and nations and races, each of which represents a different phase of that struggle, whose final triumph is the victory of Consciousness over matter. Therefore our daily tasks may be pursued in the consciousness that we are working not for one nation, one city, one family, nor for ourselves, but that we are working and thinking for humanity as a whole, irrespective of these temporary appearances of the various forms we see around us. And, if even a passing glimpse is possible for us, we can see how it is possible for a Being to sustain that Consciousness permanently, if he has already reached this position by using the processes of evolution; we can see how sympathetic such a one will be with the limitations of those hardly able to sustain that Consciousness for more than a moment. I think each of you will have experienced moments when you are sufficiently interested in the higher spiritual attainment to withdraw your consciousness from external life, to create in your own mind images that are in themselves embodiments of truth and beauty, and to people, as it were, the space about you with those influences that are enduring. At such times you enter a Consciousness where you contact forces and powers that may or may not assume shape, but which, even if you do not see, you feel as an exaltation of your whole being; the vibration of your body changes, you feel as if you were floating in some ethereal world. Such a state of exaltation transmutes the body for the time being, so that the mind is enabled to move and think freely. After such a mood you pay pass through a terrible reaction that may overcome the memory of the other state. Therefore the careful student must guard against the reactions becoming too strong.
Many, many students have reacted so far from that mood of exaltation that they have lost balance for a few days, or even weeks or months. They have almost despaired, and have even denied the existence of other worlds, so terrible was the depression, gloom and despair following the exaltation which was as the Mount of Transfiguration itself. It is advisable to train oneself gradually by various exercises to understand the operation of the laws of ebb and flow, and of action and reaction, so that we shall not ignorantly undertake what cannot be more or less successfully fulfilled; it is well not to be too zealous, not to walk too hurriedly, so that steps have to be retraced; the work should be taken in hand cautiously, with due allowance for the limitations of personality.
Two types of adepts
According to Madame Blavatsky there are two types of Adepts, Masters and Mahatmas. Those of one type act for themselves as separate units, and those of the other act for humanity as a whole. Most people have heard many references to black magicians; these are found in all the schools, and are those who act for themselves as separate units, and not for humanity as a whole. Egoism carried to excess leads to the effort to control the minds of other men, and those who act thus violate the prescribed laws and receive worship and adoration for themselves. These Adepts sometimes attempt to establish new religions in the world. I believe such an effort was made a few years ago in Paris by a body of people calling themselves Adepts.
There is never a movement initiated by conscious beings for the good of mankind without a corresponding movement arising to frustrate it; thus between the action of the two energies a balance of consciousness may ultimately be attained. A number of such minor religions are of spurious order. The so-called Adepts instruct a chosen representative in the mental or astral world as to the methods to be adopted. The instrument thus selected believes himself to be favoured by his god among men, and his zeal and enthusiasm bring others under his influence. Religions are essential to certain groups of people who need one fold and one shepherd, and are undoubtedly one of the necessary schools for young humanity in its development.
But many religions have been instituted and falsely used for purposes of selfish power by beings of a high order. The phrase used to describe these in the New Testament is “those who practise spiritual wickedness in high places.” They appear as friends of men, and very often originate seductive secret societies with pernicious teaching and practices. There are many in the world at the present time. One of the signs of these secret orders, Madame Blavatsky says, is their method of working; they generally want to charge so many guineas for initiation. She adds, “No messenger of the White Brotherhood will ever charge for the truth - it will be given freely as it was freely attained.” In America these spurious societies appear frequently, and in them fifty or a hundred dollars are paid for “complete initiation”. Sometimes a small fee is charged for “the outer court,” a higher fee for “the inner court,” and still higher for entrance into the “innermost sanctum.” Experiments of this kind may do a certain amount of good to some persons, as they meet those of equal temperament and may have a most interesting and useful time up to a point. But these experiences generally lead in the end to confusion.
The statement has been made that Adepts may perform magic by their knowledge of the astral world; that they may take part in and decide the issue of wars and overrule events that are concerned with the destinies of nations; that they may appear as poets or statesmen, and when they do so appear they are the link between the great Lodge or Brotherhood of Philosophers and Sages, and humanity.
The link with humanity
The Adept acts with forms and desires and their transformations; a Master acts with life and thoughts and their ideals; a Mahatma deals with ideas and the realities of ideals. They are the links, mediators, transmitters, interpreters of divinity and nature to man .” History being a record of physical events does not record the real life of the Adept, Master or Mahatma as such. Great philosophies, religions and sciences are probably the best evidence of experience gained by embodied principles in the psychic, mental and spiritual worlds. Only “gaps” between Consciousness and matter make principles inaccessible to men; as matter responds more and more to Consciousness, association with Intelligences who are embodiments of the Law is in the natural order. We rarely come into communication with the real being in the men and women we meet every day; is it any wonder, then, that we rarely “meet” an Adept, Master or Mahatma? They are not physical bodies, although they may use the body furnished by the matter of any world, by the race at any point in evolution; but in any assembly of human bodies they can be recognized only by principles; outward decorations and symbols are no guide to their identification, nor can they be accepted on “authority.” They can be distinguished only by the principles ruling in the world of Consciousness to which, in their respective degrees, they belong.
true Master is felt; He is not seen.
When He who was unseen is seen, He disappears.
Then the Spiritual Presences are gathered into the
unity; they know not one another, but they are the
In that darkness there is but One.
In that silence there is no knowledge, but Being -
which is all - is fulfilled.
This is the path of the true disciple.
Before man can find the true Master, he must lose
Him. That loss is pure gain; to lose Him thus is
to find Him indeed.
should be known: the disciple who finds
Him on the plane of the senses has objectivised his
Karma; he loses the Master after a higher fashion.
Know that there is only the One Self, the Master,
and lose thyself also to find Him who is never found
until He has been lost.
When He is lost to every sense then the One
Flame arises, pure as before the beginning of worlds.
Thou shalt never know it: thou art It.
THE PATH OF DISCIPLESHIP
Deep down in the human soul is implanted that divine instinct which reveals to man his oneness with God and his fellows. Any wilful segregation of a soul, or group of souls, for the purpose of syndicating God’s benefits to his children, is rightly esteemed unnatural, and is sooner or later disintegrated, either by powers, opinion, or the trend of human evolution which, in accord with the divine law of nature, wills obedience from all things. The Order of the Philosophers, if not in accord with this law, could not have endured through every age of which records exist. This organization of the Order of the Philosophers is composed of those souls who have reached the crest of evolution on this planet and who have passed beyond intellectualism into spiritual realization. The aim of all souls who have attained to this level of consciousness is an entirely disinterested one - the stimulation of human evolution and the benefit of mankind. They have renounced the personality. Renunciation is the word of power compelling admission to the Brotherhood of the Servants of God, and inevitably bringing association with its members through the attainment of that Consciousness which transcends the barriers of time and space. There are no oaths, no vows of secrecy, and nothing is required of a member which is contrary to the dictates of his own soul. Yet no true initiate has ever been known to sell Divine Knowledge for money, nor to exercise his spiritual gifts for personal gain.
On the last occasion on which I addressed this Lodge, I spoke of “Masters, Adepts and Mahatmas,” and I pointed out that nature is a unity, although there are planes or degrees of nature which interpenetrate. It is necessary, however, for purposes of study, to make comparisons and to analyse experiences, as that is the method of the reasoning brain-mind. It is essential, then, to speak of planes of consciousness; and, although it may be quite true that the words Master, Adept and Mahatma are used interchangeably to describe certain states of consciousness, it is advisable to have a clear definition of what we are talking about, and I suggested, therefore, that it is desirable to use (1) the word Adept when speaking of a centre of consciousness more particularly concerned with the psychic world; (2) the word “Master” as representing a highly individualized consciousness, exercising fully the powers of the mental world; and (3) the word Mahatma as representing a great Being, using particularly the spiritual plane as a vehicle for the exercise of His consciousness. I pointed out that the Mahatma includes the other two; His sphere extends from the lowest to the highest within the field of manifestation; He has complete knowledge of the mental worlds and also entire understanding of the astral world - the psychic plane.
The first step
The first consideration, it appears to me, is this: How may I become a disciple? I will assume that all here are desirous sooner or later of becoming disciples. Some of you may want to put it off for a season, until you have had a “good time,” for the Path of Discipleship is usually associated with certain rigorous restrictions, with sacrifices and renunciations, which are not always palatable to us in our enthusiastic days of youth. We wish to spend our substance in riotous living; to come to ourselves, in another sense, before we seek to tread the path of self-mastery back to the home of the Father. But at some time or another all progressive men and women desire to enter the way that leads to true spiritual development. Some of us may have already started on the Path, or, at least, promised ourselves that we will dedicate ourselves to this task. And, if that be so we have probably come to the point in our lives where we say: How may I be appointed a disciple to a particular Master or a particular Adept or a particular Mahatma? I suggest that you have to be self-appointed, and having appointed yourself, you begin to consider the necessary steps upon the Path. You will no doubt come to the conclusion, as most of us do after a little reflection, that there is no hurry, and that if you undertake more than you can accomplish, Nature will somehow warn you that there is no need to hasten unwisely with your obligations.
The motive for desiring to become a disciple is important. Unity of mankind, unity with the race, unity with humanity, seeing one’s self in them, and vice versa, is generally regarded as the best incentive. In appointing yourself you are the only witness to the pledge. There is no other witness required. Documentary evidence is of no value where many lives of effort are needed; the pledge must be a much deeper thing. An esoteric body or school may help in throwing light on matters of erudition, on obscure points with which occultism is concerned, but claims to intimacy with Adepts or Masters or Mahatmas are usually to be condemned, especially in the young disciple. The determination to succeed must be maintained and kept fixed, even though progress may be remarkably slow. “Fix the mind on your ideal, eliminate all causes of distraction. One pointedness is necessary.
In looking through the literature dealing with this subject, and also in considering the matter from my own personal experience, I have jotted down a few observations dealing with obstacles to discipleship. Anger is a great obstacle. Passions are obstacles. Appetites, desires and wasting diseases are obstacles. Paralysis of any kind is an obstacle, because all the bodily powers are required in this task. I noticed, in looking up some of the works of Western occultists, that even the amputation of a limb is considered an obstacle. Diseases which prevent the use of the organic functions are obstacles, because these organic functions are associated with energies and forces which are required in the evolution of life upon the Path. Alcohol in excess is an obstacle, for it is an enemy of the mind. Nevertheless, some of the Rosicrucian Orders have recommended the use of wine in moderation as good for the life of the physical body. It is pointed out, however, that alcohol in excess is distinctly detrimental.
Spiritualistic mediumship is also an obstacle. Those who frequent seance rooms and circles, and take part in necromancy of any kind by raising the psychic shells of the dead, are placing obstacles in their path of discipleship. That does not mean that all spiritualism is to be avoided; it may be necessary, at a certain point in evolution, to convince oneself by any means that there are unseen and invisible worlds with which consciousness may become familiar, and a study of spiritualistic phenomena may be useful; but, as it develops a negative attitude towards life, and as mediumship inevitably puts a man or a woman in a negative position, it is detrimental to the evolution of the highly individualized nature required for the struggle of life, and it is not advisable for a disciple to continue that line of investigation. The full use of all the faculties and all the senses is necessary. Hypnotic influence of any kind is bad, because that again encourages a negative attitude towards life and weakens the individuality. There are so many forces inimical to the best interests of humanity acting through human beings that it is necessary to be very positive, and to have a deep understanding of the principles of life if one is to avoid becoming a medium of these opposing forces. Christian Science, or, in fact, any other kind of science which closes the mind to truth by saying, “This is the final word on the subject,” is also an obstacle.
To sum it up: “A sound mind in a sound body” is essential to success.
Two schools of occultism
As I have previously pointed out, there are, broadly speaking, two schools: the school of the Adepts and the school of the Masters, and it is possible to distinguish these schools in all occult literature. The school of the Adepts is particularly concerned with the development of the senses, of the psychic faculties, of clairvoyance, and of the astral body. The school of the Masters deals mainly with the development of the mental powers, of the faculties of the imagination (which is the creative faculty par excellence), and of the thought-body, in which one may move as consciously and as freely as in the physical body.
Before becoming a disciple it is necessary, then, to consider to which school you will belong, whether you will concern yourself mainly with the acquisition of psychic faculties or the development of mental powers. The choice of school is very important, because it is difficult afterwards to change schools, especially as the pleasures of the psychic school often become more alluring than even the activities of the physical plane; they are more subtle.
In fact, many degenerates develop strong psychic faculties because, having exhausted the pleasures to be obtained through the ordinary channels, they resort to other measures by which they may stimulate new sensations; although psychic these are none the less sensations, and do not lead to a knowledge of the functions of the mind. It is recommended, indeed, that no degenerate practice of any kind should be indulged in and no degenerate forms of sense expression; all relationships and functions should be perfectly natural; no artificial stimulation of these great powers and energies of life for the purpose of purely sensual gratification should be used. There must be obedience and allegiance to the Principles that you have set before yourself in your pledge.
The negative path
Some young disciples do not get far beyond a consideration of externals. Some, I know, concern themselves very largely with food, and they go no further. As I have already said, a healthy body is the first essential to success, and food should be considered from the point of view of health and strength, to suit the particular type of body that you happen to be using in this incarnation.
But vegetarians, excellent people in many respects, may be fussy, ill-tempered, fanciful and negative. The fact is, for some bodies meat is absolutely essential for work in the Western world. The present physical body, and I say this subject to correction because I am not an expert, is herbivorous and carnivorous; the stomach is a meat-eating organ, and the teeth are two-thirds carnivorous. Sentimentality of any kind will not get over the facts. In large cities many men, even Adepts and Masters, find it necessary to eat meat. Man needs an animal desire-body at present, whatever he will need in the future, and the physical body is a natural animal. The animal body needs training, but it also needs care and nourishment to strengthen it, to enable it to carry us the whole journey. Therefore the disciple must learn to control and direct the animal with kindness, in order that it may take him where he will effectively. “No weakling can succeed.” A very strong desire is necessary, and the most successful disciples usually have a powerful animal nature as a basis, and they learn to use it effectively for the purposes of the soul. There can be no better instrument. This mastery is not obtained by pure asceticism; that is generally a negative path. The powers of the animal organism have to be clearly understood and used. Natural pleasures and healthy exercises are recommended; a close observation of every field of nature is one of the necessities. By such means the disciple is helped to overcome mediumistic tendencies.
No high intelligence,” says Madame Blavatsky in a letter, “uses a trance-medium.” One criticism I have heard is that she was at one time herself a spiritualist, a fact which inspires some disciples with the idea that they should consult mediums, and thus get into touch with Adepts and Masters. This, however, is not the way to achieve the object the disciple has in view. Any voice that may be heard or any vision that may be seen must be very seriously questioned by the student. Everything one is told by unseen voices must be tested by one’s own powers of discrimination, judgement and common sense. I have known a few who have been led entirely astray by following such directions. The fact that the voice comes from unseen sources somehow strikes them, in their enthusiasm, as an evidence of its high quality and character, and, without question, they follow its bidding. If, however, you exercise discrimination, the time will arrive when you will know your true teacher.
First, you must take into consideration the environment in which you find yourself, the circumstances of your life, your family and your age; whether you are rich or poor; whether you are educated or lacking in education; the particular nation to which you belong, the special town or city in which you live. All these things have to be carefully considered in deciding upon the steps you will take.
Where, then, and how are you to begin?
Here is the place to begin: “Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation”; but begin gently. Formulate very precisely and clearly what you intend your obligation to be, and, having so formed it, keep your attention fixed upon it; let it be the Pole Star that you follow through the whole course of your life. Every day polarize your whole nature by regarding carefully your obligations. In that way Karmic attachments are resolved, and you finally become liberated. If you meet each day’s Karma as it comes you are not “piling up Karma”; you are beginning to meet it day by day as you go forward. If you have made the first step, if you have taken an obligation to yourself, to your Higher Self, to your God in Heaven, to the Christ - whatever formula you use to crystallize for your mind that which to you is highest, - you will find yourself tested every day by that obligation, by that Principle.
If your obligation has been undertaken from the very depths of your soul, with the greatest possible sincerity, you will find yourself still more severely tested. Circumstances will arise to try you because of the polarity of your thought. These things do not happen by chance or accident. It is a law in operation; that you must always remember. The polarization of your thought to your ideal will change the circumstances of your life. You will find yourself, perhaps, often in uncomfortable conditions, in difficult situations; you will find yourself probably face to face with circumstances that are unpleasant; but you will have no greater reason for satisfaction than that, for it is a proof that you are being taken at your word. The person who is floating along the stream of life, taking things as they come without any appeal to any higher ideal, or any superior idea of life, is bound, at a certain point, to come against some circumstance, some experience which says in effect: “Halt! Where are you going? What are you doing? What are you here for? And therein you have perhaps the greatest of all evidences that man is not simple what he appears to be by superficial observation. He is a being of much greater complexity. He is a being of psychic, emotional and mental powers and of spiritual energies, and all these are moving constantly through his nature. Today he may give way to certain impulses which lead him downwards; tomorrow he may aspire to something loftier and more noble. Again, there is the position where he feels life at a dead level; nothing has special interest for him, nothing seems to have any strong attraction for him. From one another of these three positions he passes, alternating between one extreme and the other, and sometimes spending a little time between, or pausing to look at both. But if he remain long in the middle position where nothing appeals to him, where he takes very little interest in matters that do not immediately concern his personality, he is in the deadliest position of all, the place of the Laodiceans. And you know what is said of the Laodiceans! A man who by some strong impulse imposes upon his whole nature a certain fixed resolve may find himself entering this place, and plunging deeper and deeper into the expression of passionate energy. An artist I knew, who painted some of the most spiritual pictures perhaps ever painted by any artist, used to experience terrible “dark fortnights of the soul,:” out of which he emerged into the purest and most wonderful atmosphere, where visions of beauty appeared to his soul. Whatever position the disciple is in, this inevitable test is being made by his inner nature, trying him this way and that, to see what stuff he is made of.
Because, remember, the aim is not to become an automaton; the object is the evolution of a self-conscious, self-poised being who, standing at the centre of his nature, will be able to look out on life from the centre, and direct his energies wisely in accordance with the plan which he now sees and partially comprehends. It is obvious that, if that position is to be attained, nothing but the most rigid discipline will ever achieve it. The discipline has to be self-imposed. And blessed indeed is the man or woman who begins it now.
There is no better way in which to help on humanity in its struggles towards a brighter and more beautiful life than by imposing upon yourself a certain amount of discipline every day. And, as great artists could tell you, it has this curious effect: it makes you understand life much more intensely. The men and women who impose no discipline, who never experience an intensive mood of the soul, do not understand life; they do not enjoy it; they do not realize anything like its full possibilities. As it is by comparison that we are able to tell “this” from “that,” darkness from light, so only by carefully observing these moods of the soul by which we fasten ourselves into life, by noting their characteristics and their effects as we pass through them, shall we ever become Adepts or Masters. No wise being, no wisdom of any philosopher, no religious teacher will ever train you; you must impose the task upon yourself. They may give the rules, they may give expression to the laws of development, and lay down the principles so plainly that any one can understand them; but the result depends entirely on what you yourself do, on how you apply the principles, on how you impose this task upon yourself.
When you undertake this task of discipleship you frame your own rules; you do not take any printed rules framed by some one else, probably for entirely different conditions. Rules laid down for the East will not usually suit the disciple in the West; there the life, the climate, and all the other factors are quite different, and that is why Western occultism has always had a set of regulations different from that of Eastern occultism; they are alike as regards the object before them, but the Eastern rules suit Eastern disciples, and Western those in the West. There are some Eastern disciples in Western bodies, and vice versa. But you should form your regulations for yourself. Your nation, your family, your body, your relationships with others, the use of your senses and powers, all these will enter into the few simple ideals you will formulate. For no true disciple of the Lodge of Light ever neglects any of his obligations. If he does, he will be brought back to them again and again. Not by seeking to run away from obligations to family and friends, going perhaps, into monastic life, to India or to some secluded spot where you will be free from all sorts of troubles, temptations and obligations - not so will you find the Master. If you are sincere in your desire to enter the Path, circumstances will be so arranged by your own soul (not by any external influence) to bring you back again and again to face and meet your true obligations.
You will find, probably, that other disciples interest you more, and are really nearer to you in many ways than blood-relatives, because the one is a physical, the other is an inner relationship. I do not mean that you will despise any relations; on the contrary, you will be encouraged in your inner life by your association with your co-disciples, so that you will be all the more likely to fulfill your functions properly, in every relation of life. If the disciple understand life properly he will consider himself here for a purpose. A husband and wife, realizing incompatibility, should overcome it by the same principle that has brought them together through the Karmic Law. At the same time, they may recognize other higher obligations; then there will grow up between them an understanding, and a deeper friendship will develop in that larger life of the Soul. And this, indeed, is what matters.
There should be obedience and allegiance to these fundamental principles; there should be no ill-feeling towards any other human being. You may criticize things in yourself; you have an equal right to criticize to yourself those same things in others, but that need not engender any ill-feeling. There should be no jealousy of others or of the other’s work or position. Your powers, which will increase as you pursue the Path, should be used not merely to gratify desire, not to influence others nor to defeat your enemies and to promote yourself personally. The disciple must learn also that he has no enemies. Some people carry that idea out in a foolish way. They say to themselves in a sort of abstract way that they have no enemies; but at the first difficulty that arises they immediately desire revenge. Any attempt to use power to gratify desire for personal ends leads to a miscarriage of the birth of a new body which is being formed within (to use a physical analogy), because during the time you are undertaking this work you are building a body for these higher principles within yourself, you are forming a body by means of which you will enter consciously into the worlds invisible to physical light, and you will prove the existence of these worlds by means of this new body, which will function freely through all fields of consciousness. You must then work in the world without the desire to leave it until all your obligations to it are fully met.
One thing the disciple learns - that there is no need to spend any moments in regret. While you are spending time in repentance, you are strengthening your weaknesses by dwelling upon them instead of using each moment to advantage and going straight ahead. Never waste a moment about what you did yesterday or the day before. This necessity for living in the present moment must be constantly emphasized. Live in each moment as it comes, as fully as you possibly can. Time to the soul is an entirely different thing from what it is to the ordinary man who lives externally. As some one has said, we hear time ticking only in ourselves. The important matter is that the way we spend the present moment prepares us effectively or disastrously for the following moment. “Regret nothing. Cut all doubts with the sword of spiritual knowledge.”
Some people think age is an obstacle. It does not matter what age you are physically; you may be sixty years young or eighty, it does not matter, or twenty years old. Age has nothing to do with it, except this: that the earlier you start the better success you are likely to make in the particular incarnation in which you begin, because the vital energies are at a higher point of efficiency, and you are more likely to pass through the struggle successfully. You will come, of course, to an incarnation where you well enter consciously upon the task, from the beginning of self-conscious life.
All the obstacles you meet will have one object and one purpose: to teach you how to think and how to act. All difficulties will remain until they are properly met. Every difficulty has a definite place in the disciple’s education, and when you realize this it should banish all fear. It does not matter what happens to you while you hold this attitude; if you lose your reputation, your place in society - if you have ever had a place, - if everything tumbles about you, your task is to stand undismayed. As one teacher very pregnantly says, you may put yourself in imagination into some of these positions, and just imagine how you would feel if everything were gone from you, if whatever little reputation you have amongst your friends, whatever little place you fill in society - if all that were gone, would you stand unafraid before His Will and not mind the destruction of a million Universes. I do not think any of us would. We have not yet reached that desired position. Nevertheless, that is the goal, that is the object; you must accomplish this in order to reach the position where, having nothing, you will realise that you have all. Then you will know that nothing that you can gather around you externally is of any permanent value, for no sooner have you got it than the sweet taste leaves it, because, being easy of access, it is no longer worth having; any treasure of life has to be hedged round with some sort of resistance. When everything is smooth and easy and we have all we wish without trouble, the true value of life diminishes. But when we have to fight, to struggle in order to attain, when we find the path difficult, values are readjusted; in fact, it is well known to students of psychology that lovers will create difficulties artificially in order to feel this resisting element. If it does not exist they will make it, because there must be some tension all the time in order to make life interesting.
Realizing, then, that difficulties are instructors, try to extract every possible ounce of experience from them. But this must not be done self-consciously, nor with the feeling that you are getting on better than others, becoming highly developed psychically and progressing finely. It is characteristic of all true disciples that they are very humble; in fact, no one can tell easily where they are, or even whether they are disciples or not, so skilfully do they conceal the fact. Whatever progress may be made is recognized not by any outward tokens, but by some inherent characteristic of the soul, which reveals itself when the personality is sincerely humble.
Nights and days
The manner of meeting all circumstances is of supreme importance. We know that Nature carries on her work in the dark during the winter, preparing for the results which will be seen in the spring and summer; and times that correspond to the seasons externally exist also in man. “The soul has nights and days in its own eternal ways.” Often, during the dark night of the soul, the disciple who has attempted this self-imposed task of following the Path is very severely tested, and it is generally during this “dark fortnight” that he turns to the life in the senses. But if you should happen to take a step in that direction, do not let it disturb you; begin again; begin where you fell, and walk steadily on once more. You may have to work for years, or even to live in obscurity. “You are yourself the object of your search,” the subject of your study; you are the obstacle to be overcome, the material to be worked upon. The result of your efforts will be shown upon yourself, upon your own character, and you represent now what you already have been.
The nature of instruction
You should carefully avoid notoriety and unnecessary publicity; you should shun so-called occult and secret societies which advertize. This precept is laid down emphatically by all the great occultists. Your teaching will not be altogether from books. You will be concerned, rather, with the elements and forces; how they affect you; how you may learn to control them; how to train and use your body. You will consider, perhaps, with greater interest the structure and formation of the earth itself, the plants, the water, the divine chemistry of the earth, the inner senses of all the elements and worlds: these some disciples think of as merely matters of interest to students of physical science. You will consider the origin of things, the causes of change and all the laws that operate through the physical structure of life, through the air and through the water. The earth is the field in which all meet and to which all are related. Fire, air, water, earth, these four great elements, give life and strength to us. Occultism teaches us that the body of the earth is composed of beings belonging to these elements. A certain intimacy grows up between a disciple and Nature herself. The very grass you tread on, the brown earth itself, the trees, the flowers, everything with which you associate, the earth upon which you live, somehow becomes endeared to you because you begin to live in the elements. The winds, the waters, the air itself, all, in some way or other, become your garment. Many persons seem to think that if that be true you will be always examining every detail with the minutest care. It does not necessarily mean that. The interest is not so external, although some who may be botanists will develop themselves along that line. The earth, in whose body we live, is a great Being, because all planets are beings; they are made up of collective hosts of beings, mineral, vegetable, animal and human, sub-mineral and superhuman, the whole gamut, including that which is beyond our perception, is contained within the earth sphere. We are living as part of this great Being, nourished day by day in its life, eating of the body of the Lord of Life, partaking of the divine sacrament, drinking of the divine substance. All these things are literally true. Therefore, as you study, your whole understanding of life, your whole feeling towards existence, changes, and then it is very difficult indeed to think of other individuals as separate from yourself.
I do not mean to say, however, that you catch hold of their persons and say: “We are one.” I mean, rather, that the psychic life of the human race, the mental life, the spiritual life, even the physical life itself is interblended between one man and another, and that you will begin to realize all as one. Therefore it becomes difficult for you to act as a person with motives of self-interest. It is not very easy at first to think in terms of the whole, but gradually it becomes more and more difficult to feel yourself as an entirely segregated, separate being, and your greatest joy and delight will be in realizing your unity with that common life which is of the same substance physically, of the same essence spiritually, and unites us all in one great unity of life. Of course this is much easier to understand than to put into practice. But still, as you strive to achieve it, you become polarized to the thought, and your whole outlook begins to be coloured with the conception of unity.
If you decide to undertake any kind of healing, as some do, do not attempt mental healing; the wisest among the occultists have warned against it. Magnetism is sometimes very useful, but most teachers say that when you deal with the human body it is best to be guided by professional medical men, because some of the greatest Masters have particularly concerned themselves with medical science, with the study of the human organism, in order to discover in nature the antidote to every disorder or disease. They have said that in nature there is something to meet every disturbance in the human body, and it is wise, I think, for most disciples to beware of mental and magnetic healers; not because in themselves they are bad - in fact magnetic healing is sometimes very useful - but because they are apt to make foolish mistakes and form ties of one kind and another which they are not able to take care of. It is better to associate spiritual healing with the very best wisdom of those who have made a scientific study of the physical body, who know its parts and understand exactly the functions of the various organs and senses. By so doing you will learn when you are using energy wisely, how you are directing it, what its effect is, and what the result may be upon yourself. It is possible by the use of magnetism to drive a disease inwards, into the astral body. The patient will appear to be healed for the time being, but the disease will break out again later on. Disease originates within and passes through the various bodies until it takes form in the physical body, and when it reaches that stage it is the final expression. Therefore the man is wise who recognizes this law and helps to expel the disease rather than to drive it in again. Whatever method you adopt, be sure that you understand the nature of the energy you are using and the effect that energy has upon the physical organism and the psychic nature of the other individual. The desire-forms of humanity have to be understood in the same way as the plants and the earth and all the functions of the different kingdoms in relation to each other and to humanity; you must learn the various desire-forms of yourself and others. You must never allow yourself to practise healing without permission of your inner nature, your higher Self, your true being. You must obtain the consent of the soul to everything you do. You must try to have the greatest possible knowledge of the probable results of actions that you set in motion.
Conditions for rebirth
Now, if you are to be “born again” as the result of this undertaking, when you have travelled along the Path sufficiently far, when you have gone through the symbolical nine months and all the stages of the journey that lead you to the moment of birth as an Adept, you will perhaps have to retire from the world for a short time while the “birth” is taking place. Most Adepts disappear during some part of their life. I do not say that any of you here have reached that point in this incarnation, but when you have, suitable circumstances will arrive naturally with the development of the psychic body, and you will probably find yourself in circumstances where it is possible to retire for a while from the activities of the life of the world. I was talking once to a man who told me that everything on his upward path was arranged at the exact moment without any desire on his part consciously to arrange it, he found himself precisely where he wanted and needed to be for the purposes of development at the time when a certain experience was due. H.P. Blavatsky observed the same thing, and most Adepts and Masters, when they reach that stage, become wanderers over the whole planet. Whatever it is takes them to the necessary place, there they find themselves! For instance, in a monastery in the interior of China, far removed from the tracks of ordinary civilization, a traveller found the signature of H.P. Blavatsky in a book kept by the monks - an indication that she had visited the monastery. She undertook a life of service in which she passed successfully through all parts of the symbolical journey, and, probably, we shall have similar experiences when we reach the same point in our evolution.
This time for retirement will come about naturally, as does the passing of the hour, if we have neglected nothing and no instruction has been overlooked. The process of rebirth is analogous precisely to physical conception and birth; bodily forces are conserved, every organ gives something of itself to the development of the new body; it is the operation of the creative principle in full power.
The disciple in the school of the Masters will have to observe many of the same rules as the disciple in the school of the Adepts; but he will not use or develop psychic powers simply for the object of doing so. He will subject his senses to the requirements of the mind; he will close the doors to the psychic world, and will endeavour to develop faculties of the mind; he will attain mental clairvoyance rather than psychic clairvoyance; he will spend energy in the acquirement of mental powers, and I believe he will find this, in the present stage of evolution, much the shortest way in the end. What experience teaches is the main thing. The Light itself is all-important, not reflections, not the shadow cast by the Light, whether physical or psychic.
There is no hurry to become a Master. As I said, the motive must be pure, then thoughts will quicken, the Light of the wonderful unity of all life will flood your life with a new radiance. Loneliness will undoubtedly follow, but in due course you will come under the guidance of a Master, “for the school of the world,” says one of them, “is the school of the Masters.” The Master’s task is to aid men in the world. He knows the relationships of former lives with family and friends; he discerns the cosmic plan, and concentrates and meditates on that plan, and he practises what will finally within his own body bring about the resurrection and the life.
The disciple learns to overcome all the elemental desires by the control of his thought, until his desires reflect true thought as it is in the archetypal world. In due time he comes to birth in retirement, and henceforth he uses all his powers for divine ends; his body becomes vitalized, his nervous organism is well strung on the sounding-board of his body, and he finds all within himself. His world work can be summed up in four words with which I will conclude: Watch, Pray, Hope, Be Silent. Watch your lower nature and your mind. Pray, by demanding and realizing power to govern them. Hope, by aspiring to the highest. Be silent, so that the personality may listen and may hear the Voice of the Divine Self.
It is obvious with a subject of this kind that I must ask for your close attention. It is not an elementary subject, and I cannot claim to put before old students anything remarkably original on this important subject. I can only pass on to you what I myself consider to be important in connection with this subject, and for what I say in the earlier part of my address I am largely indebted to Mr. James Pryse’s work, Commentaries on the New Testament, and to the Commentary on the Comte de Gabalis.
Initiation or spiritual rebirth results from the quickening in man of that divine energy which evolves through upward direction of the creative energy into the deathless spiritual body. So that it may be said that degrees of initiation are only degrees in the evolution of God in man. Illumination is that degree in which the divine Self masters and enkindles its manifestation, the personality, that is henceforward subservient to Its evolution. Initiation is the destiny of the entire race. In Romans viii. v. 19 we read: “For all creation, gazing eagerly as if with outstretched neck, is waiting and longing to see the manifestation of the sons of God. For those whom he has known beforehand he has also predestined to bear the likeness of his son, that he might be the eldest in a vast family of brothers.”
The soul's oblivion
The soul is drawn into the body staggering with recent intoxication, signifying by this the new drink of matter’s impetuous flood, through which the soul, becoming defiled and heavy, is drawn into a terrene situation. The starry cup, placed between Cancer and the Lion, is a symbol of this mystic truth, signifying that descending souls first experience intoxication in that part of the Zodiacal heavens through the influx of matter. Hence oblivion, the companion of intoxication, begins silently to creep into the recesses of the soul; for, if souls retained in their descent to bodies the memory of divine concerns of which they were conscious in the heavens, there would be no dissension among men about divinity. But all, indeed, in descending, drink of oblivion, though some more and others less. On this account, though truth is not apparent to all men of the earth, all exercise their opinions about it, because the defect of memory is the origin of opinion. But those discover most who drink least of oblivion, because they easily remember what they had known before in the heavens [Macrobius, Commentary on Scipio's Dream]
First astral flight
It is one of the mystical traditions that the aspirant to initiation should pass the night before initiation in prayer. Hence the knight of the Grail prayed and kept vigil over his armour prior to receiving the golden spurs, the symbols of divine illumination. When any disciple leaves his physical body in full consciousness for the first time, he is usually accompanied by his master. For example, Swedenborg, in a passage which prefaced his work on the astral region, says that his first astral flight was guided by an angel. This experience in the disciple’s training is made the occasion for teaching him, through observation, many truths about superphysical beings and states of consciousness, and, if he pass through the ordeal successfully, he is able henceforward to leave and to enter his body at will and with ever-increasing freedom, until gradually the experiences while out of the body become as real and continuous as those in the flesh. Paul says: “And I knew such a man. Whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell. God knoweth.”
Man, however, sinks into oblivion, and, through indifference of thought, allows himself to be governed by the minds and opinions of others. It has been possible, therefore, to keep him in ignorance of his true path and to retard his spiritual progress for centuries. The man who does not think cannot know, and he becomes the slave and property of other minds. The man who thinks wills to know, and tends to become the expression of the God within. The ancient philosophers held that the relation of the Creator to His creation has been the same in all ages; not only has been, but will be; that all creeds evolved by man are but concepts of this relation, and in no wise alter it. “The truth regarding the fatherhood of God, the sonship of His messengers, and the great teachers of humanity and the brotherhood of all His creatures is superior to all creeds and religions, and will unify them all when once apprehended.”
Now, to understand anything at all about initiation it is necessary to have at least a superficial acquaintance with the ancient philosophies and other associated subjects. They must be understood to some extent before this subject can be studied intelligently and to advantage. Every thoughtful student of the literature of the ancient religions, including also that of Christianity, especially early Christianity, cannot but be impressed by the fact that in each and all of them may be found very clear indications of a traditional law, an archaic science, handed down from time immemorial.
A traditional science
This secret body of knowledge has been called in different ages by different names, and each of the great nations of antiquity had an esoteric as well as an exoteric wisdom. The true wisdom, the gnosis, as it is termed in the Greek, was reserved for the temple initiates, while the popular religions, made up of moral precepts, myths, allegories and ceremonial observations, reflected more or less faithfully the mystic tenets. Origen, one of the early fathers, says: “All the Eastern nations, the people of India, the Persians, the Syrians, concealed sacred mysteries under the religious myths. The sacred philosophers of all religions penetrate the true meaning, while the ignorant see only the exterior symbol, the bark that covers it.” The noblest of the philosophers and the sages, with but very few exceptions, gained their profounder knowledge through regular initiation at the schools of the mysteries, which in ancient times were the true centres of learning. In Greece, for example, the mysteries were established in various forms, and were under the direction of the State. The most notable, of course, as most of you know, were the Eleusinia, which were of great antiquity, and continued until the invasion of Alaric the Goth in the year 396 of the Christian era. During the first century the mysteries were the recognized religion of Greece, and were celebrated in every city of that country and in the Greek colonies in Asia Minor. The principal centre of the greater Eleusinia was the superb temple at Eleusis, near Athens, while the lesser Eleusina, at which candidates participated in the purificatory rites and were given elementary instructions, had their seat at Agra on the River Ilissos. The lesser mysteries were celebrated in February and the greater in September every year. The celebration of the greater Eleusinia lasted nine days. It began in public as a pageant and festival in honour of Demeter and Persephone; but the secret purifying rites were celebrated in the secrecy of the temple, to which none but the initiates were admitted. Every initiate was bound by an oath of inviolable secrecy; hence, nothing of any importance is known concerning the initiatory ceremonies. However, there is good reason for believing that in the Eleusinian ritual the Zodiacal symbols were employed, and that some of the instruction was given in the form of dramatic representations. The symbolism of the Zodiac was really a cryptic language in which certain facts concerning the inner nature of man were expressed, and this was common to the initiates of all ancient religions. There was no concealment of the fact that the initiatory rites were designed for moral purification, the development of the spiritual faculties, and the attainment of conscious immortality. Nor was there any secrecy about the general principles of this philosophy which were openly inculcated.
The first of the degrees covered the whole field of the inductive physical sciences, and they were concerned with investigating the phenomena of external nature. The second degree embraced exoteric religion and all phases of blind belief, and these two degrees - pertaining to the lower mind - comprised all the knowledge available to those whose consciousness does not transcend the illusions of the material world. The third degree related to speculative philosophy, which sought to arrive at first principles by the effort of pure reason. The fourth degree was the direct apprehension of truth by the clear, calm mind, independently, practically, of any reasoning process whatever. And these two degrees pertained to the higher mind, as we understand it, in theosophy; they represented the field of knowledge open to those whose consciousness rises to the world of spiritual reality. Plato speaks of the mantic state, which he describes as a kind of madness produced by a divine release from the ordinary ways of men. The exoteric scientist and the exoteric religionist rely of course, on the physical senses, the psychic emotions and the intellectual faculties, as these are understood in the present stage of human evolution. And while it may be said that the scientist somewhat enlarges the scope of the senses by employing the telescope, the microscope and other mechanical devices, the exoteric religionist puts his trust in the mutilated records of more or less suppositional revelations received from the remote past. But the true esotericist, refusing to be confined within the narrow limits of the senses and the mental faculties, processes of the lower reasoning mind, and recognizing that the gnostic powers of the soul are hopelessly hampered and obscured by its imperfect instrument, the physical body because we do not know how to use it, devotes himself to what may be termed intensive self-evolution, the conquest and utilization of all the forces and faculties that lie latent in that fontal essence within himself, which is the primary source of all elements and powers and being, of all that he is, has been, and will be.
So that by gaining conscious control of his hidden potencies which are the immediate cause of his individual evolution, he seeks to traverse, in a comparatively brief period of time, the path leading to spiritual illumination and liberation from terrestrial bondage; he pushes forward toward that knowledge which the human race as a whole, advancing at an almost imperceptible rate of progress, will reach only after aeons of time. His effort, therefore, is not so much to know as to become, and herein lies the tremendous import of the Delphic inscription: “Know thyself,” which is the key-note of all true esoteric development, for the true esoteric student understands that self-knowledge can be attained only through self-development in the highest possible sense of the term; a development which begins with introspection and the awakening of creative and regenerative forces, which now, unfortunately, slumber in man’s inner nature, like the vivifying potency in the ovum, and which, when roused into activity, transform him ultimately into a divine being, embodied in a deathless ethereal form of ineffable beauty.
The object of initiation
This process of self-conquest, the giving birth to oneself as a spiritual being, the creation from the concealed essence of one’s own embryonic nature of a self-luminous immortal body, is the object of initiation, the great theme of all the mystery dramas of the ages. All that the Universe contains is also contained in you, each one of you individually. The origin of man, we say loosely, is in the Deity, and his true Self, the Individual, is a Logos, a manifested God. Man the microcosm, like the macrocosm, has three bodies, which are called in certain sacred writings the spiritual body, the psychic body, the physical body. In the Upanishads they are termed the causal body, the subtle body and the gross body. In all mystical writings of any importance, these three, together with the fourth or perfected image of the immortal Self, are given as corresponding to the four occult elements in nature, and also to the earth, the moon, the sidereal system and the sun; hence they are spoken of as the earthly or carnal body, the lunar or water body, the sidereal or air body, and the solar or fire body. The spiritual body, strictly speaking, is not a body at all, but only an ideal archetypal form, inspired by that primordial principle which in the duality of manifestation generates all forces and elements. It is therefore called the causal body, because from this sphere all other bodies are engendered. All these lower forms are enveloped by the same circumambient aura, called in some Scriptures the radiance, the glory, which is visible to the seer as a faint film of bluish haze, and appears illustrated in that form in some theosophical books.
Semi-latent within this ovum is the light of the Logos, which, in energizing, becomes what we may roughly describe as living, conscious electricity of incredible voltage, and hardly comparable to the form of electricity known to the physicist. This is the “good serpent” of ancient symbology, and it also is represented in the familiar symbol of the egg and the serpent. In Sanscrit writings it is called kundalini, that ring-form or annular force which in the Greek is called speirema, the serpent coil. It is this force which, in the cycle of initiation, weaves from the primal substance of the auric ovum the ideal form or archetype it contains, and conforming thereto the immortal Augoeides, or solar body, so called because, in its visible appearance, it is self-luminous like the sun and has a golden radiance. The solar body is of atomic non-molecular substance. The psychic or lunar body, through which the spirit acts in the psychic world, is molecular in structure, but of far finer substance than the elements composing the gross physical form to which it closely corresponds. “In appearance it has a silvery lustre tinged with delicate violet, and its aura is of palest blue, with an interchanging play of all the prismatic colours, rendering it irridescent.”
Life centres in the physical body
The physical body, as I have indicated already, may be considered to be an objective microcosm, an epitome of the material world, to every department of which its organs and functions correspond and are in direct relation. Now this physical body is probably in some respects at the present stage of evolution the most important of all the bodies. It is the organism through which the soul contacts external nature. Its organs correspond to and are the respective instruments of the powers and faculties of the soul. Thus the body has four principal life centres which are, roughly speaking, analogous to the four worlds and the four generic powers of the soul. The divisions may roughly be given as follows: The head or brain is the organ of the higher mind; the region of the heart, including all the organs above the diaphragm, is the sea of the lower mind, including the psychic nature; the region of the navel is the centre of the passional nature, comprising the emotions, desires and passions; and the procreative centre is the seat of the vivifying forces on the lowest plane of existence.
A ganglion of the sympathetic nervous system, known as the pineal gland, is situated in the brain directly posterior to the extremity of the third ventricle. “From its broad anterior end two white bands pass upward, one on either side of each optic thalamus.” As one mystic has said: “When, through the use of the holy Catholic medicine the pineal gland is regenerated, it endows man with superphysical or seer vision.” The solar power, the creative energy, the universal fire, which acts in all bodies and may be used either for good or evil purposes, is the light of the Logos which in energizing becomes what may be described as living, conscious electricity. It is the force which, when governed by man, becomes the instrument which the soul uses to build up his spiritual body. As Paracelsus says, “The material of the philosopher’s stone is nothing else but sun and moon.” “The sun and moon are the roots of this art,” says Hermes.
The allegory of Eve and the serpent
In the allegory of Eve and the serpent, the primordial electricity of which I have spoken, Semi-latent within the aura of every human being, was known to the Greeks as the speirema. In the Upanishads it is said to lie coiled up like a slumbering serpent. In the third chapter of the book of Genesis it is symbolise as the serpent, “more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God hath made.” Eve, according to the story, when this force stirred within her, was tempted to its misapplication. Directed downward through the lower physical centres, “unhallowed by a consciousness of responsibility to God and the incoming soul, the serpent force brought knowledge of evil.” Directed upward toward the brain for regeneration, the formation of the spiritual body, it brought knowledge of good - spiritual knowledge. Hence the dual operation of this solar force is symbolized in the story as the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The curse of the Lord upon the serpent, “Upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life,” makes reference to the fact that during a certain period of human evolution man shall remain in ignorance of the law governing this solar force, and during that period it will manifest in man’s earthly vehicles misgoverned by the human mind. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” During this cycle of evolution - the kaliyuga, as it is called in the East, - in ignorance of the law governing this divine force, man continually directs it downwards or bruises the serpent’s head, while the serpent fire, thus misdirected, from the point of view of spiritual evolution, bruises man’s heel, heel here being regarded by many authorities as a euphemism for that part of man nearest the earth, that is to say, the lower emotions and the mortal mind. And the Lord said: “Behold the man has become as one of us, to know good and evil. Now, lest he put forth his hand and take fruit of the tree of life and eat and live for ever” - here the tree of life symbolizes the upward play of this solar force for the creation of the immortal body. Hence the meaning is, lest man should learn the law governing this force, and by directing it upward become immortal before he has learned sufficiently the necessary experience under the bondage of matter. “God drove out the man, and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims with a flaming sword, which turned in every direction, to keep the way of the tree of life.” Now it is possible to interpret this passage in a variety of ways. It might be said, cosmically speaking, that the Garden of Eden symbolizes those realms of higher spiritual attainment at the gates of which, from the time of man’s descent into the lower cycles of evolution, God placed heavenly beings, charged with the duty of preventing that nature in man corresponding to their own from receiving stimulation during man’s progress through the lower spheres of knowledge. The Mohammedan mystics hold that man can only be born again in spirit through the aid of the heavenly powers. These powers are said by them to connect the heart of man with the soul, the lower consciousness with the higher. Then the same force in nature which has deterred man from premature spiritual attainment assists him in his upward evolution, the mind having been prepared, through man’s own effort, for a further understanding of the mysteries of God.
In the book of Genesis, as I have just stated, the agent, this creative power, this regenerative force, is personified as the serpent, “more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God hath made.” In the allegory, Satan, the serpent, is seen to be the serpent fire or solar power or force, misgoverned by the human mind, as it opposes the law of nature, the law of “God” which wills obedience from all created things. How then, we ask, considering our present condition, considering how much we have to accept upon authority, how much we really fail to understand in all the writings and readings, how are we to take the first important step which leads finally to complete initiation. It almost sounds trite to say that the only method is, constant aspiration and the desire to know the law, that divine law which liberates in man, that force which is a living flame, and which acts under the direction of the God in man, and with or without the conscious effort of the finite mind.
Regeneration of the centres
This force, once liberated, begins immediately to displace the sluggish force, the sluggish nervous energy, and to open and perfect those nerve centres or minor brains atrophied by disuse, and which , when regenerated, reveal to man superphysical states of consciousness and knowledge of his lost sovereignty over nature. This force manifests on the physical plane by passing through the ganglia of the sympathetic nervous system, and thence up the spine to the brain, where its currents unite to build up the deathless body. In its passage from one ganglion, or chakra, to another its voltage is raised, and it awakens and is augmented by the power peculiar to each ganglion which it dominates. These centres are the “concave mirrors” whose property it is to concentrate the fire of the world or divine solar energy which proceeds from the Sun behind the sun. In the cerebrospinal system there are many centres awaiting regeneration. Hence the spinal cord is the relaxed string whose pitch must be raised by the exaltation of the elements of fire which is in us. Knowledge as to the development of this power or force has been sacredly guarded in all ages, lest man through ignorance should employ it to his destruction. The soul renounces the “world,” i.e. all personal ambition, and who seeks by selfless service of his fellow-beings to obey the divine spirit within, may, without external teaching or assistance, evoke this flame and achieve unaided a knowledge of nature’s secrets and mysteries. He who seeks divine knowledge will surely find it, for the God in man ever strives to render unto him his lost birthright. No sincere effort to solve this mystery passes unheeded by the “silent watcher” within.
But unless with selfless purpose and governed by the spiritual principle within, this fire will intensify the lower passions and cause the man to become a destructive force, working contrary to the law of nature.
The philosophers hold that man is fourfold in nature, having four bodies corresponding to the four elements. The physical body is interpenetrated by a body of finer matter, vibrating at a higher rate, in which emotions and passions register, as I have said already, called the “water body”; the earth and water bodies are interpenetrated by a body composed of still finer matter, vibrating at a still higher rate, the mental body in which thoughts register, called the “air body”; and “informing these three bodies and engendering them is the divine spark, the potential solar body or God in man existing, as it were, in embryo, awaiting the evolution of the earth, water and air bodies, to sustain the flow of the solar force which shall stimulate and perfect its divine unfoldment.”
To seal a goblet of compressed air, water or earth means to master the body, emotions and mind, and to differentiate appetites from emotions and emotions from thoughts for the purpose of gaining absolute control over the personal self.”
The mastery of the mind
It is far easier to govern the body and emotions than to gain the mastery of the mind. This mastery, however, should be striven for, and may be achieved through concentration in meditation and by persistent effort at all times to impress the mind to reject falsehood and accept only truth, that it may purely reflect the God within. By concentration in meditation upon a given subject, by the effort of regular breathing, as some emphasize, though I do not think that is important, the mind may be held so that it is not subject to other thought than that pertaining to the object or symbol of expression about which man desires knowledge. If man will persist in this practice he can enter into harmonious relationship with the God within himself, his true being, and from that source gain knowledge which is the result of the soul’s own experience while passing through the higher and lower states of matter. At the same time, if man will concentrate upon the highest, he can evoke from within himself that solar force and power which, if directed upward, will awaken and revitalize those organs of perception hitherto atrophied and withheld from his use. Life is the attainment of that Consciousness which is of God, and man is therefore shut out from the knowledge of his true being and estate until he seeks atonement with his own divine life-principle and its evolution and manifestation in him. Thus concentration in meditation, the holding the mind receptive to the divinity within, and in a positive attitude of repression to outside influences, is seen to be an exalted form of prayer or communion with God, whereby man may become a sharer in the wonders of God’s omnipotence and recovers his lost sovereignty.
Hermes was said by the Greeks to typify and preside over the powers of the mind and to be the patron of gymnastic games. He is represented as bearing a staff, the gift of Apollo the sun god, and emblem of the God’s message to mankind. This staff represents the spine, containing the cerebrospinal nervous system, which is the wand of the magician; while the two intertwining serpents by ascent symbolize the positive and negative currents of solar force, directed upward for the stimulation and evolution of the divine principle in man.
As in the microcosm the physical body is formed and animated by the invisible or spiritual man, so in the macrocosm the visible sun derives its life and light through the invisible or spiritual Sun whose glory and power can be apprehended by man solely through his own divine solar principle, to which the Sun behind the sun is manifest as a radiance of unspeakable glory, realized or participated in as an ecstasy of consciousness, unnameable in any medium of expression known to the finite mind. In some systems it is called union with God; in the East, Yoga. Among the initiates of all races it has been striven for, though, so far as records show, rarely attained. “It is the flight of the alone to the alone,” says Porphyry. “I and my Father are one,” said the Jesus.
Study of the mystery-teachings with regard to Man and Nature can be of real value only as it leads to technical and practical knowledge based on individual experience. Efficiency depends on what we are, not alone upon what we know intellectually. Obedience to natural laws - the basis of human efficiency - leads to high efficiency and an understanding of the divine science. Then it becomes possible to state and classify laws as aspects of the One Law, and to live according to It and teach It, for we are embodiments of the Law, and may become conscious cooperators with It in all the experiences of life. We must know ourselves, and learn how to develop our inherent efficiency-qualities. Then we will know our fellows, our work in the world will be apparent and will afford momentary opportunities for the application of all our qualities, of our knowledge of nature and the technical knowledge of the mystery-teachings. The correct use of knowledge will nourish our qualities and result in bodily fitness and mental efficiency; this will be reflected in character, in intellect and will; our daily and hourly education will be an unfolding of the inherent qualities of the soul.
To know ourselves fully, to understand the operations of Consciousness in every part of our complex being is, therefore, of primary importance. To comprehend the “higher” it is necessary to understand the “lower.” The various bodies through which Consciousness functions must first be understood in some measure, and this requires the exercise of the highest spiritual intelligence. Function precedes organism, a “mental feeling” leads to the development of a “physical sense.” Perceptive life proper begins in the world behind the physical; all senses are but differentiations of the one sense-consciousness, and every veil over the vision of the soul adds to the illusions which so effectively ensnare it. The sages and wise teachers of man have taken great pains to emphasize the fact that the whole nature - moral, mental and physical - must be purified if the inner vision is to be rendered active. Purity of the body follows naturally from mental purity. It is only when the matter of the body is free from admixture of the impure elements of desire that it can reflect the images of the higher state, and preserve the recollections of the spiritual life. When any action is the subject of contemplation by the mind its effect is enormously increased for good or ill. The purifying of the mind is consequently of the first importance; when the thought is pure, desire is likewise pure, for the desires of the body originate in thought. Our bodies are largely subject to habit and repeat mechanically impulses good or bad; the mind is the tempter, and while it is under the illusion of the separated personal life it seeks the satisfaction of the self in matter. The consciousness in all the cells of the body constitutes the animal consciousness - the heart excepted. The spiritual consciousness has its seat in the heart - the dwelling of the spiritual man, - the most important organ of the body, the first spot that lives in the foetus and the last that dies. A yogi in trance may “live” in that spot, though the rest of the body be dead. “The spot contains potentially, mind, energy and will; during life it radiates prismatic colours, fiery and opalescent.”
The pineal gland
The spiritual Consciousness in the heart centre cannot be used wisely until the pineal gland is touched by the kundalini, [An electric, fiery occult or folatic force, the great pristine force which underlies all organic and inorganic matter. It includes the two great forces of attraction and repulsion; electricity and magnetism are but manifestations of it.” - H.P. Blavatsky.] and this is not possible by man until the “stale cadaver” that “blocks the passage” is removed. The efforts of the spiritual Consciousness to guide the mind wisely are evidently increasing in individuals, and every effort is helped by growth in purity of thought and desire.
When Consciousness is active in the brain the aura of the pineal gland vibrates, and the play of the seven colours can be seen; this is reflected in the aura of the heart, which is negative to the brain in the ordinary man. The seven centres of the heart are then illuminated, and, if the positive current flows from the heart to the brain, the higher and lower centres of consciousness are united, the matter of the brain is impressed and cosmic consciousness is the result. During deep sleep the spiritual Consciousness of every man of the race is active, and, if the memory of this state could be impressed by the Heart on the brain, man would no longer be restricted within the bounds of the limited personal life.
The third eye
This is the opening of the third eye - the eye of the seer. The capacity to impress on the brain “the memory of the Heart” is referred to in mystery language as the opening of the third eye - the single eye which being opened fills the whole body with light. This is the eye which opens in deep sleep and “beholds the King in his glory,” but unfortunately it does not remain open; the impressions from the spiritual consciousness which reach the brain may be increased by the right kind of training. Brahma’s Hall and Vishnu’s Hall, and the radiant homes of all the Gods are in the Heart of man, and each has its correspondence in the brain. “Concentrate on the Master as a Living Man within you. Make His image in your heart as a focus of concentration so as to lose all sense of bodily existence in the one thought. The great difficulty is the registration of the knowledge of the Higher Self on the physical plane. To accomplish this the physical brain must be made an entire blank to all but the higher Consciousness.”
Centres in the brain
The brain is the organ of the mind; its convolutions are formed by thought and its activities. There are seven centres or cavities in the brain filled with Akasha; [The subtle, supersensuous essence which pervades all space; the primordial substance erroneously identified with ether, which is only one of its principles.” H.P. Blavatsky] each centre has its own colour according to the state of consciousness and is visible to the purified vision. When the “memory of the Heart” can be impressed on these brain centres, the reflections of the Akashic records may be seen and read, but the ability to see and read them does not always imply the ability to correctly interpret them. The pineal gland is the organ of divine thought per se, and, when touched by the vibrating light of kundalini, it becomes the centre of spiritual intelligence and illumination. When the three higher cavities of the brain are active, the radiations of the “crown of life” become visible, the whole universe is seen, and the cavity of the skull itself filled with the light of Akasha. The story of the crucifixion is an allegory of spiritual regeneration; not an historical record of a physical death, and, the resurrection of the “dead” centres having taken place, the glorified Initiate lives in the spiritual body, “exempt from change and death.” Every man who becomes self-purified raises the level of the entire human race through the close psychic and spiritual ties which unite all men, and in this sense every initiate is a Christ - a Saviour. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, in whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
The gift of the spirit is spiritual seership, bestowed by the vibrating fire of kundalini - the Advocate, the Paraclete. The higher knowledge cannot be demonstrated through the senses or by mere intellection. Every purified man “conquers the world” by conquering the material elements of his own nature.
The pituitary body
The pituitary body is the organ of psychic vision, and its molecular motion often gives rise to hallucinations. It should be the servant of the pineal gland (the organ of spiritual clairvoyance), its forerunner, its “torchbearer preparing the way for the Master” - the seventh principle centred in the sixth. The brain is the vehicle of desire-mind; its subdivisions correspond to the various aspects of the mind in activity, and the cavities relate to the Heart, through which it is possible to make impressions of the spiritual Consciousness in physical matter, and, by action within these cavities, to awaken the higher Mind on the physical plane, and develop spiritual vision and understanding.
Man is androgyne so far as his head is concerned.
Organs of desire
In the trunk of the body the liver, stomach, navel and generative organs are the organs of desire. The real Spleen is covered by the physical spleen, which acts as the centre of the life currents in the body, and from it the principles of life are circulated through the body by way of the blood. The universal life principle penetrates desire in the body, and desire (Kama) is the essence of the blood; the blood is the vehicle of desire; its “red corpuscles are drops of electrical fluid - the progeny of the Fohatic principle.” Electrical action “oozes” the white corpuscles - the scavengers of the human body - out of the astral body through the spleen. “They are the sweat-born of the Chhaya.” The blood is the physical vehicle for the principles of life and desire, and plays a vitally important part in the animal economy.
Thus life radiates as the light of the Logos in the body; it is the force of energy which underlies matter in every stage, and is the producer of all the phenomena of existence. As specialized in the human organism it may be described as living, conscious electricity; it is the “good serpent” of the ancient legends. From the “sacred spot” above the medulla oblongata the sympathetic cords take their rise, and from this same spot is formed the upper junction of the sympathetic and cerebrospinal axes. The sympathetic cords are evolving in complexity to form a second spinal cord, and at the end of the next round humanity will once more become hermaphrodite, and then there will be two spinal cords in the human body, to merge later into one. The creative sexual power of man will be transformed as he returns up the arc of self-conscious evolution. In the end of the sixth and seventh races man will not have sexual organs, if analogy holds good. With the evolution of the races the true spinal cord will be developed and man will realize himself a divine being in a deathless form of ineffable beauty. This will be accomplished by gaining conscious control of the hidden forces and potencies which are the causes of his individual evolution.
The physical body of man is the epitome of the material world; its organs and functions are in direct relation with every department of nature. The spinal column is the “rod of Brahma,” and is symbolized by the wand of the Yogi; the seven knots represent the seven “Nadis” along the spinal cord, and the three knots of the bamboo stick symbolize the three “vital airs” that “blow” through the spinal column . When, after due preparation, kundalini becomes active, it acts as the agent of man’s spiritual will to complete the perfecting work in the body. The ganglionic centres or chakras are linked together like so many electric batteries, and, as the vivifying current of kundalini passes from one centre to another, the voltage is raised and the centres, having been purified, are technically “conquered.”
Atoms and molecules
The physical body is molecular; every molecule has its principles, informed and ensouled by atoms. Man is reflected in every molecule, as the universe is reflected in him. As the Divine Spirit (Atma) dwells in the material universe, so the atom dwells in the molecule; the atom of the objective world, for ever invisible - the spirit, soul and mind of the molecule; it is because of this that the higher principles of man are able to act in the body. The molecules of the physical body are, of course, related to the molecular structure of the astral body and desire-mind. The atoms are the gods, or principles, which in combination constitute the mysterious Ego; and, when all is said, the Ego still remains the mystery of mysteries, for “darkness is about its pavilion.” Sense-consciousness is molecular; in the cell there is no self-consciousness; the mind does not act directly in the molecule; the cells of the body cannot originate ideas - they report to the brain, and act under volition from the atom. Spiritual vision is the result of atomic vibration in its highest sense, and in bodies where powerful molecular vibrations are set up, the atomic are “drowned,” and seership is difficult of attainment.
Life is within us and around us everywhere - the Universal Deity. It cannot, however, pass directly to the physical body, but is specialized through a life-body, which absorbs it from nature, and adjusts it to the physical body. This life-body has been called by many names in different systems - astral body, linga-sharira, etc. It is only through an understanding of its functions that many of the mysteries of life in relation to the physical body can be understood. In most of the ancient systems, and likewise in the Christian system, the symbolism is complex and difficult to follow, and the significance of the teaching cannot be understood by purely mental study. Practical experience is the only valuable guide, and it is quite true that, under the present racial conditions, few have the qualifications to enter safely on the study of practical occultism.
Sanctity and chastity
There can be no archetypal disorder; disorder is always a parody of order. The relationship between sanctity and chastity is not by any means so simple as some appear to think. Dionysus, Apollo and Aphrodite are the gods of the “tavern” as well as of the “High Mass”; a glimpse of Heaven may be experienced by the sailor in the tavern as well as by the officiating priest at the alter. The eternal and sacred fire of the race hallows every body: “Your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost,” and when this is understood by man no act of the body will be profaned, but inspired by the strength and beauty of the divine consciousness. Profanation is the idle abuse of the creative energies. Personal considerations must be transcended, and everything done “to the glory of God.” Alas! how meaningless the beautiful mystery-language has become.
The subtle connection between the higher brain centres and the generative organs, through the spinal cord, and the sympathetic system, clearly indicates the dangers and difficulties to be undertaken in the work of regeneration, and suggests to the student why so many mystical schools have been wrecked on the rock of phallicism. The three vital airs (sushumna, pingala, ida) are controlled and guided by will, or its reflection - desire. The airs must be “cool,” otherwise the delicate and sensitive organs in the brain are in danger of being “scorched,” and disease results in some form. The Leyden Jar of the divine fire cannot be discharged with impunity. To the daring soul, however, the “witness” is always present to guide, and the warnings, so gently given when personal desire “heats” the “airs” will lead, if they are promptly heeded, to safe exercise of power, and “the door of Brahma.”
The holy Paraclete
It is surely obvious that the present confusion of caste and all the blighting conditions of human life can be attributed to misuse of the God-given energy within the body. The regenerative force becomes destructive in its operation, and sickness and finally death comes to relieve. The power of the holy Paraclete cannot be exercised by man while he is gross and sensual, when his mind is constantly filled with images of impure desire. Spiritual forces, for the majority of humanity, can only be awakened by introspective meditation, by control of thought, by the ability to concentrate the mind upon abstract conceptions to the exclusion of irrelevant ideas. This has been set forth in detail, step by step, by all the wise teachers of man; its repetition becomes wearisome, but the purifying virtues can be acquired in no other way. Joy awaits the successful candidate in the mystic meditation, who, by the action of the Paraclete, conquers the life centres, and enters the realm of spiritual realities and becomes a Master of the Gnostic Science. Little wonder that the work has to be pursued with patience through many years and lives until the consummation, but even in its early stages the memory of the eternal life remains unbroken and knowledge becomes a certainty.
Go to HOME PAGE
Go to our ON LINE documents