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Questions Dealing With Initiation
The Plane of Initiation
Question: Is it possible to be initiated on another plane without going through a corresponding initiation on the physical plane? If so, should the memory of the initiation on first waking be an indication that one has taken place, or would it be only a dream?
Answer: Mankind as a whole is progressing by a process which we call evolution from impotence to omnipotence. During this pilgrimage we, who were once altogether spiritual, have become gradually crystallized into the various vehicles we now possess. In those by-gone days we were all-conscious upon the spiritual plane, and though we had in time become enmeshed in a physical body, we knew it not. Gradually, however, some became conscious of the physical body. As the Bible says, "They saw themselves, their eyes were opened and they saw that they were naked." These pioneers who had thus been initiated into the mystery of the physical body commenced to go around telling the others, "We have a body." At first, of course there were very few who would believe them, but gradually a larger number became initiated into the mystery of the body. They received their physical sight, and saw something which was not patent to their brethren. Finally the whole of humanity had evolved the physical senses, and became capable of cognizing the material world in which we now live.
Today it is the other way. Humanity has become so engrossed in the material world that the great majority are unaware that they have finer vehicles, and that there is a spiritual world which may be cognized by a sixth sense which has been evolved by a few, but is latent in the majority of people. These pioneers who by the unfoldment of a sixth sense have become initiated into the mystery of the soul are now busy going about telling to others the good news that we have a soul and a latent sense whereby to perceive it.
From this explanation it should be clear that initiation consists partly of helping someone who has not previously been able to perceive the spiritual world to change his consciousness, so that he may at will center it upon the invisible part of the human being, which we may loosely term the soul, and retain perfect consciousness of all he sees.
That is true at least of the spiritual process of initiation. In that far bygone Lemurian Epoch when the first pioneers discovered that we have a body, it would not have helped anyone not ready to have gone with them through a ceremony no matter how elaborate; the uplift to be obtained by initiation was the opening of the eyes and the perception of the physical body in the physical world. Similarly, it will help no one to go through ceremonies from morning until night and study this man's book or that man's method. The object is to evolve that sixth sense whereby the invisible world and the invisible vehicles of men are perceived. This is a process of slow growth; it involves a becoming of something that the person is not now.
The method of awakening this latent sense best suited to the Western world has been given in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception under the caption The Method of Acquiring First-hand Knowledge, and also in the pamphlet called Spiritual Sight and Insight; Its Culture, Control, and Legitimate Use. When the physical life lived by any person has fitted him for initiation, the Teacher always appears to him, while he is wide awake and in full physical consciousness. The candidate is told that he has evolved a vehicle necessary to function in the invisible world, and is then offered the help to make the first or "initial" transition safely. This is an offer which he may refuse if he will, and no one of the White Brothers would urge him against his will, should he decide not to go. Certain physical preparations are necessary, and throughout the whole process, from the time he leaves his body until he returns, the candidate remains in full consciousness and has an uninterrupted memory of all that takes place. Thus it is impossible for any one who has really gone through the process of initiation to be in doubt of it or think that it may have been a dream.
The Tests of Initiation
Question: What are the tests of initiation, which it is said the candidate must pass before he is initiated?
Answer: The candidate for initiation very often does not know that he is a candidate. Usually he is simply living the spiritual life of service to his fellow men because that is the only life that appeals to him, and he has no ulterior thought or object in so doing. But, nevertheless, he is being tested and tried all the time unconsciously to himself for that is part of the process. No candidate is ever taken into an initiation chamber and tried or tested. The tests come in the daily life and in the small things which are seemingly very unimportant, but really are of prime significance. If a man cannot be faithful in little things, how could he ever be expected to be faithful in the great? Furthermore, the Elder Brothers of humanity who have charge of this work with respect to their younger brothers, are always sure to pick out his most vulnerable point, because if he is tried, tempted, and falls, this serves to call his attention to the weakness in his character. Thus he has an opportunity of correcting it which he would not have if temptation were not placed before him.
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Thus the tests are not wholly made for the purpose of seeing whether he would keep the trust, but also for the purpose of giving him the chance to strengthen his weak points. The tests are therefore never the same in the case of any two candidates, for what would be a temptation to one would pass the other absolutely without making any impression upon him whatever. By the life of unselfish service, and through the strength gained by passing the various tests, the candidate weaves the golden wedding garment of the soul body which prepares him to enter the invisible worlds and the process of initiation consists then in simply showing him how to make use of the power which he has accumulated within himself by his own work. No one can initiate anyone else unless he has the power within, any more than an empty shell can be exploded.
Creating a New Body
Question: How can an initiate create a new adult body ready to wear before he relinquishes his old one?
Answer: You will understand in the first place that it is not everyone who has just become aware of the invisible worlds and perhaps learned to function in the soul body that is capable of performing this feat. This requires vastly more spiritual development, and only those who are very highly developed at our present time are able to perform the feat. However, the method is said to be as follows:
When food is taken into the body of anyone, be he Adept or ignoramus, the law of assimilation is that he must first overcome each particle and conform it to himself. He must subdue and conquer the individual cell life before it can become part of his body. When this has been done, the cell will stay with him for a longer or shorter time according to the constitution and the place in evolution of the life that dwells within it. The cell composed of tissue that has once been incorporated in an animal body and has been interpenetrated by a desire body has the most evolved life. Therefore, this life quickly reasserts itself and leaves the body into which it has been assimilated.
Hence one who lives upon a flesh diet must replenish his food supply very often. Such material would therefore be unsuitable for the purpose of building a body that has to wait for a while before the Adept enters it. Food consisting of vegetables, fruits, and nuts, particularly when these are ripe and fresh, is interpenetrated by a great deal of the ether which composes the vital body of the plant. They are much easier to subdue and incorporate into the polity of body. Also, they stay longer there before the individual cell life asserts itself. Therefore the Adept who wishes to build a body ready to wear before he leaves the old one, naturally builds it from fresh vegetables, fruits, and nuts, taking them into the body which he uses daily where they become subjected to his will—a part of himself.
The soul body of such a man is naturally very large and very powerful. He takes a part of it, and makes a mold or a matrix into which he may build each day particles superfluous to the nourishment of the body he is using. Thus by degrees, having assimilated a considerable surplus of new material, he may also draw upon the vehicle he is wearing for material that can be incorporated into the new body. Thus, in the course of time he gradually transmutes one body into the other. When the point is reached where emaciation of the old body would be observed by the outside world and cause comment, he will have balanced matters so that the new body is ready to wear. He can step out of the old and into the new. But he does not do that merely for the purpose of living on in the same community. It is possible for him by reason of his great knowledge to use the same body for many years in such a manner that it would seem still young, for there is no wear and tear upon it such as we ordinary mortals cause by our passions, emotions, and desires. However, when he does create a new body, it is always, as far as the writer knows, for the purpose of leaving that environment and taking up his work in a new.
It is for reason of this fact that we hear in history of men like Cagliostro, St. Germain, and others who one day appeared in a certain environment, took up an important work, and then disappeared. nobody knew whence they had come or whither they had gone, but everyone who knew these people were ready to testify to their remarkable qualities, whether for the purpose of vilification or praise.
It is taught by the Elder Brothers that Christian Rosenkreuz has a physical body, or perhaps he has had a series of bodies which he has worn continually since the order was founded in the fourteenth Century. But though the writer has spoken to Lay Brothers of high degree, none has ever admitted that he has seen Christian Rosenkreuz. We all understand that he is the thirteenth member of the Order, and he is felt at meetings in the temple as a presence, but is neither seen or heard, so far as anyone whom the writer had dared to question, knows.
The manner of the Elder Brothers when speaking of their illustrious head has been one of reticence, and it would seem undue inquisitiveness to ask anything further than they are prepared to tell. It is known, however, that his work is with the governments of the world. And though we are unable to point to any character on the world stage now who may be this great Spirit we are certain he is there and taking his proper part. It has been said that he wore the garment of a lady of the French Court prior to the revolution and worked hard and earnestly to prevent that impending catastrophe, though without success. Although we believe this is true, it is mere hearsay. Were we to point him out at the present time we should rather look for him as the power behind the throne somewhere rather than the actual incumbent of one of the seats of power in the world today.
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Masters and Initiation
Question: Why do the esotericists speak to us of masters and initiations, while other schools—mystics—seem to teach that man may teach himself and reach God without the necessity of initiation and masters? Cannot man reach the consciousness of the "I" without these things? Do the initiations refer solely to the unfoldment of latent powers in man? Are there initiations in mysticism? Are they the same as in esotericism?
Answer: If everybody was born with the same temperament it would be necessary to have only one path for them. Everybody would need the same experiences in order to raise his consciousness to union with God. However, as every one is fundamentally different from all others, the experiences necessarily differ and certain great lines of demarcation are necessary in order to obtain the desired results for all. Therefore, strictly speaking, there are as many paths to God as there are separate spirits in evolution.
Broadly speaking, there are two: one which leads to union by faith, and the other which is the path of salvation by works. At a certain point these two paths converge, and the one who has been growing by faith finds it then necessary to take up work also, while the person who has developed by works, apart from belief, finds himself or herself compelled by experience in the present condition to have faith also. A person may learn to speak a foreign language by means of grammars and kindred helps, though he never visited the country where the language was spoken; but it is probable that his pronunciation will make that which he says unintelligible to a native. With the help, however, of one who has visited the country he may learn much more efficiently and in a shorter time.
Likewise, also in the mystic life. There are some who have progressed farther than others, who have visited the land of the soul and who have attained the mystic union with God, and their help is of inestimable value to those who are endeavoring to tread the path. Having gone before, they are able to direct the seeker intelligently, though of course he (the seeker) must walk every step of the way. The steps upon the path are commonly known as initiation. An illustration will help to make the matter clear. Let us suppose that God is at the pinnacle of a very high mountain, and that humanity is scattered over the plain below. From the foot of the mountain a spiral circles toward the goal at the top. This is the path of evolution followed by a great majority of mankind, who thus gradually climb the steep sides toward the top without perceptible effort. However, there is also a stair leading straight from the bottom to the summit. This is the path of Initiation which is climbed only by great and conscious effort.
It is unnecessary to have Masters to help us, and their place is then taken by the Elder Brothers, known in the West as friends and advisers. The Master of the East urges his pupil, praises him when he does well, punishes him when he has been neglectful. In the West, the Elder Brothers never urge, never praise, and never blame. The urge must come from within the pupil, and they teach him to judge himself. At certain stages upon the path they require him to write impartial opinions of his own conduct, so that it may be known how far he has learned to judge correctly. Thus in every respect they educate him to stand upon his own feet without leaning on them or anyone else. For the higher we attain, the greater would be the disaster of a fall; and only as we cultivate equipoise and self-reliance coupled with zeal of devotion, are we really fitted to go on.
Now with respect to these initiations: There is no ceremony of any kind connected with the true initiation. The elaborate ceremonial of pseudo-esoteric orders as today seen in the visible world, of fraternal orders, or of churches, does not in any particular resemble the true initiation. That does not take place in the physical realm at all, and there is absolutely no ceremony connected with it. Neither does it consist of a ritual, read by anyone else, nor of lectures or preaching or anything of that nature. Not a single word is spoken during the process. That I know to be true in the lower degrees, which I myself has passed, and it would be contrary to reason to suppose such means should be used in the higher degrees. Furthermore, having had conversations with the Lay Brothers who have passed into higher degrees, the truth of this supposition is corroborated by their word.
In this fact you have a very good reason why the secrets of true initiation cannot be revealed. It is not an outward ceremonial but an inward experience. The Initiator, having evolved the external, picture consciousness of the Jupiter Period, fixes his attention upon certain cosmic facts, and the candidate, who has become fitted for initiation by evolving within himself certain powers, (which are still latent, however), is like a tuning fork of identical pitch with the vibration of the ideas sent out by the Initiator in pictures. Therefore, he not only sees the pictures—anyone might see them—but he is able to respond to the vibration. Vibrating to the ideal presented by the Initiator, he has the latent power within him then converted into dynamic energy and his consciousness lifted to the next step upon the ladder of initiation.
This may sound abstruse upon first reading, but if you will read and re-read until you have mastered the idea, you will have attained to the nearest description of what initiation is which can possibly be given to one who has not experienced it himself. Neither is there any secret about the picture, in the sense that one should not tell, but it is secret because no physical words are coined which could adequately describe a spiritual experience in material language. It is true that the initiation takes place in a temple particularly suited to the needs of a certain group of individuals who vibrate to a certain octave, and that there are others present. However, I reiterate that it is not what they might do or say which constitutes initiation, but that initiation is an inward experience whereby the latent powers which have been ripened within are changed to dynamic energy.
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Now with respect to the difference between initiation along the esoteric lines, and those of the mystic. You will find from what has been said from the beginning, that they are, and must be, exactly opposite. The esotericist, who takes his initiation from the intellectual side is shown the connection of spiritual causes with material facts, while the consciousness of the mystic, who has received the spiritual facts is directed to their connection with the effects of the material plane. All this with the view of blending both sides and developing man normally. The Rosicrucian initiations, being designed for the present pioneers of humanity, endeavor to blend the mystic with the intellectual. However, as the Western world has developed the intellect to the detriment of the feelings, a little more stress is laid perhaps upon the mystic side. Here the Elder Brothers always direct their pupils to look to Christ, but though the genuine Eastern Masters are as devoted in the service of humanity, they cannot thus teach their pupils, because from the standpoint of the Eastern aspirant the Christ Light is yet invisible. Hence they are forced to teach their charges to do exactly as they say, and in the course of time Christ will appear to them, also.
Why Most Initiates Are Men
Question: If woman, possessing the positive vital body, reaches the point in evolution where she can have the choice of body and she selects the positive physical body, where does the negative side come in as a balance?
Answer: To understand the point you wish to have cleared up, you must first realize that man and woman are appellations to be applied only to the physical body, for sex is not expressed in the same manner in the higher vehicles. Fix also firmly in your mind that the Spirit which manifests in the bodies of the two sexes which we call male and female is itself sexless. However, two of the Spirit's attributes are particularly in evidence when it creates its vehicles: Will and Imagination, positive and negative, and they manifest as male and female respectively when the Spirit reaches the Physical World and builds the body in which it will function under the divine guidance of the Creative Hierarchies. The Spirit expresses alternately, will and imagination, so that it may be evenly developed, and therefore it manifests in male and female bodies. Being imperfect, the balance is struck for it by giving it a positive physical body together with a negative vital body, and vice versa.
However, when the time comes that the Spirit has evolved through aeons in school of life and learned its lessons to such an extent that it becomes fairly self-controlled or balanced, it is no longer necessary to secure the full equilibrium by means of opposite polarity in the body. Therefore the Spirit can and does take to itself both a positive vital and a positive physical body. This is the case with the great majority of initiates except where for special reasons they find it advantageous to make use of a negative physical body. The vital body, however, in every initiate is always positively polarized, as that makes it a better and more receptive instrument for the vibrations which come from the Life Spirit, whose counterpart the vital body is.
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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