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To obtain a clear understanding of what constitutes Initiation and what the prerequisites are, let the student first fix firmly in his mind the fact that humanity as a whole is slowly progressing upon the path of evolution, and thus almost imperceptibly attaining higher and higher states of consciousness. The path of evolution is a spiral when we regard it from the physical side only, but is a lemniscate when viewed in both its physical and spiritual phase. In the lemniscate, or figure 8, there are two circles which converge to a central point, which circles may be taken to symbolize the immortal spirit, the evolving ego. One of the circles signifies its life in the physical world from birth to death. During this span of time it sows a seed by every act and should reap in return a certain amount of experience. But as we may sow in the field and lose return on that which falls on stony ground, among thorns, etc., so also may the seed of opportunity be wasted because of neglect to till the soil and the life will then be barren of fruit. Conversely, as diligence and care in cultivation increase the productive power of garden seed enormously, so earnest application to the business of life, improvement of opportunities to learn life's lessons, and extract from our environment the experiences it holds—brings added opportunities; and at the end of the life-day the ego finds itself at the door of death laden with the richest fruits of life.
The objective work of existence over, the day of action spent, the ego enters upon the subjective work of assimilation accomplished during its sojourn in the invisible worlds, which it traverses during the period from death to birth, symbolized by the other ring of the lemniscate. When it arrives at the central point in the lemniscate, which divides the physical form from the psychic worlds and which we call the gate of birth or death, according to whether the Ego is entering or leaving the realm where we, ourselves, happen to be at the time, it has with it an aggregate of faculties or talents acquired in all its previous lives, which it may then put to usury or bury during the coming life-day as it sees fit: but upon the use it makes of what it has, depends the amount of soul growth it makes.
If for many lives it caters mainly to the lower nature, which lives to eat, drink, and be merry, or if it dreams its life away in metaphysical speculations upon nature and God, sedulously abstaining from all unnecessary action, it is gradually passed and left behind by the more active and progressive. Great companies of these idlers form what we know as the "stragglers;" while the active, alert, and wide-awake who improve a larger percentage of their opportunities, are the pioneers. Contrary to the commonly accepted idea, this applies also to those engaged in industrial work. Their money-getting is only an incident, an incentive, and entirely apart from this phase, their work is as spiritual — or even more so — as is that of those who spend their time in prayer to the prejudice of useful work.
From what has been said, it will be clear that the method of soul growth as accomplished by the process of evolution requires action in the physical life, followed in the post-mortem state by a ruminating process, during which the lessons of life are extracted and thoroughly incorporated into the consciousness of the ego, though the experiences themselves are forgotten.
This exceedingly slow and tedious process is perfectly suited to the needs of the masses; but there are some who habitually exhaust the experiences commonly given, thus requiring and meriting a larger scope for their energies. Difference of temperament is responsible for their division into two classes.
One class, led by their devotion to Christ, simply follow the dictates of the heart in their work of love for their fellows—beautiful characters, beacon lights of love in a suffering world, never actuated by selfish motives, always ready to forego personal comfort to aid others.
Mind is the predominating feature of the other class. In order to aid it in its effort toward attainment, mystery schools were early established wherein the world drama was played to give the aspiring soul, while he was entranced, answers to the questions of the origin and destiny of humanity. When awakened, he was instructed in the sacred science of how to climb higher by following the method of nature—which is God in manifestation—by sowing the seed of action, meditating upon the experiences and incorporating the essential moral to make thereby commensurate soul growth; also with this important feature, that whereas in the ordinary course of things a whole life is devoted to sowing and a whole post-mortem existence to ruminating and incorporating the soul substance, this cycle of a thousand years, more or less, may be considerably reduced. Whatever work has been done during a single day, if ruminated over at night before crossing the neutral point between waking and sleeping, may thus be incorporated into the consciousness of the spirit as usable soul power. When this exercise is faithfully performed, the sins of each day thus reviewed are actually blotted out, and the man commences each day as if it were a new life, with the added soul power gained in all the preceding days of his probationary life.
When we pass out of the body into purgatory at death and the panorama of our past life unfolds in reverse order to show us first the effects and then the causes that produced them, we feel in intensified measure the pain we gave others; and unless we perform our exercises in a similar manner so that we live each evening our hell as merited that day, acutely sensible of every pang we have inflicted, it will avail nothing. We must also endeavor to feel in the same intense manner, gratitude for kindness received from others, and approbation on account of the good we ourselves have done.
Only thus are we really living the post-mortem existence and advancing scientifically toward the goal of Initiation. The greatest danger of the aspirant upon this path is that he may become enmeshed in the snare of egotism, and his only safeguard is to cultivate the faculties of faith, devotion, and an all-embracing sympathy.
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Now, if the student has pondered the preceding argument well, he has probably grasped the analogy between the long cycle of evolution and the short cycles or steps used upon the path of preparation. It should be quite clear that no one can do this post-mortem work for him and transmit to him the resulting soul growth, any more than one can eat the physical food of another and transmit to him the sustenance and growth. You must have the soul power requisite for Initiation or no one can initiate you. If you have it, you are upon the threshold by your own efforts, and may demand Initiation as a right which none would dare dispute or withhold. If you have it not and could buy it, it would be cheap at 25 million dollars.
Let us impress it upon our minds then that Initiation is most emphatically not an outward ceremony, but an inward experience—an inner experience in which one is taught how to use the power he has stored within by a life of purity and service.
[You are welcome to e-mail your answers and/or comments to us. Please be sure to include the course name and Independent Study Module number in your e-mail to us. Or, you are also welcome to use the answer form below. (Java required)]
1. Describe the path of evolution as seen in both its physical and spiritual phases.
2. What work is accomplished during physical life?
3. What work is accomplished during life in the invisible worlds?
4. What is the distinguishing difference between the two classes of humanity - the esotericist and the mystic?
5. How may the process of spiritual development be hastened?
6. What is the greatest danger of the aspirant?
7. Define Initiation.
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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