Brother of the Third Degree

Will L. Garver






All this time Iole, because of the influence she had acquired over the great chief, had been his almost constant companion. There was no concealing the fact, he was in love with her. I knew this to be the case, but quenching the fires of jealousy resolved to let things take their course. Although I loved her better than all else on earth, I trusted that the fates would give me my dues, and kept her never-to-be-forgotten warning—“to forget self”—constantly in mind.

During the five years of conflict I was now here and now there; now a communicating spy, and now a commander of forces. I had risen to the rank of general and was held in the highest esteem by my army.

Peace having been once more declared I was again at Paris—Paris of the twentieth century; Paris, the capital of the United Republic of Europe; Paris, with her four millions of people and her boulevards and palaces.

Two schools, one of art and the other of philosophy, such as the world had never seen, fronted each other upon the Champs Elysée, and students thronged their marble porticoes from all parts of the world. Lectures were free, and the long secluded teachers of the Orient discoursed on philosophy, while the Zerol school of mystic artists gave lectures on art. The municipal council decreed that all façades within the city should be of stone or marble, and a new interest in art having come with greater liberty of thought, the twentieth century renaissance made the city a dream of beauty and grandeur.

Once more I was at the palatial residence of Count Nicholsky, a residence whose classical exterior in pure white marble still ranked with the best in the city. There was to be a meeting of the council prior to the departure of St. Germain for the East. The war being over and the crisis which will ever mark the end of the cycle having passed, this mysterious personage had once more concluded to die, as it were, and return to his true station. Gathered around the council table were the seven whom we had met at the opening of the conflict; but an eighth personage was also present. He was a dark-faced, oriental looking man with black, piercing eyes and long black hair and beard. He wore a turban and sat close beside St. Germain, his eyes fixed upon the floor as though to avoid those around. Beside the council a dozen other members were in the chamber, among them my parents, Iole and Esmeralda. The most profound stillness reigned until St. Germain spoke:

“Brothers and sisters,” he said, “the karma of the nineteenth century has been expiated; once more the harvest has been reaped, the balances adjusted, and inequalities made even. The golden age has been inaugurated, but our duty is not wholly done. The day for the people to rule has at last arrived; the days of kings and emperors are over, only the Muscovite, who has yet a destiny to serve, will for yet a little time be thus ruled. But remember, brothers, that rule by the people can only be successful when they possess intelligence and have true men to lead them.

“Now it is our place and duty to see that the leaders are not wanting, and the members of our Brotherhood must be ready to hold the places of power throughout the world. These places must be theirs, not as a reward for their services or to gratify ambitions, but because they are best fitted to fill them. Not a single place must be obtained by external force, only the powers of heart and mind, working in their proper sphere, must be used for this end. Scattered over the world, our members must by their constant labor for mankind, gain the hearts and minds of every people, and thus in a peaceable manner obtain the right to rule. Keeping the welfare of man in view, the invisible brothers and powers will aid them in their labors, if it only be pure and for the good of all.

“We have just passed through a great crisis, and I was sent forth to aid and assist you; but the conflict now being over, it is my privilege to retire from your midst and seek once more my wonted occupation. You have competent and worthy leaders, and they will direct you whenever outside directions are necessary; but let each one strive to reach that point where all directions come from within.

“Now, before I depart, I will consider the claims and merits of all applicants for the ‘Third Degree.’ Let all except the council retire and await their call.”

At this command all except the council and the Oriental left the room. It was the first time Iole and I had been together for months; and as she walked along the hall with me, arm in arm, I asked: “Iole, my virgin love, what is your aspiration?”

“To accomplish the end for which all souls exist, perfection and enlightenment,” she answered with a sweet but serious smile.

“Then our paths still lie together,” I replied, as we reached our waiting room.

And now for the first time was I allowed to meet my father and mother; both received me with an affectionate kiss, but few words were spoken. Souls that understand each other need no recourse to speech, their thoughts reach each other’s minds in silence. Hardly had they kissed my sisters, Iole and Esmeralda, who was also with us, when they were summoned by the council.

They returned no more. In an hour four couples had been called, but we, with Esmeralda and her blonde brother from Scandinavia, were still in waiting. Taking this opportunity, I asked how she and mother had escaped from the storm upon the gulf fourteen years before; and in reply she said:

“Albarez and another brother boarded the steamer just as it was leaving, and when we reached the first island, at their request, we were all landed. As though to conceal the fact, we were landed in a boat some distance from the harbor, and no one learned of our presence. When we again started on our journey Albarez pledged us to secrecy, and in obedience to his orders we never communicated with you and father. I have since learned that it was a test, not unlike those through which you and I have gone. They tried his faith in his elder Brothers by apparently taking his beloved wife and daughter to their death. Yet, through all these years he doubted not, and continued faithfully at his work. Truly, we can learn lessons from our noble parents.”

“Alphonso Colono and his sister Iole,” interrupted the caller, and as we passed out I said: “Iole, be it life or death, ignominy or fame, all is for mankind.”

“Most nobly said, my own true brother; if need be we will tear from our hearts the last thought of each other, and concentrate every thought for the good of man.” As she thus spoke we paused for a moment before the door of the council-chamber; then clasping hands and kissing each other as though for final separation, we entered.

“Brother and sister,” said St. Germain, when we were seated opposite him at the table, “you have asked a high and most exalted privilege; a privilege few beings on earth possess; a privilege which can be given only after many lives of toil and labor for mankind’s elevation; you ask for admission into the ‘Third Degree.’ If, heretofore, your duties have been arduous, in this degree they pass all comprehension and your lives become a ceaseless labor. Mark well this truth, I tell you now in time; this degree, instead of pleasure, bringeth pain, yet a pain that bringeth joy. For here you learn the ecstasy of pain when the result of efforts to bring happiness to others. This is the mystery of the suffering of Christ; this the reward of the Masters of compassion with whom pain, because brought in loving work for others, becomes the source of joy.”

He spoke in a deep, slow and solemn manner, and looking toward the Oriental who sat close beside him, I observed that his black, piercing eyes were resting searchingly upon us as St. Germain continued:

“Brother and sister, as you know, our great work is for man; and we therefore labor in every field that will assist in his uplifting. We have much to be done in the world, and you can both find abundant labor in the visible field of action; but if you enter the ‘Third Degree’ you must leave the world and labor in an altogether different manner. Now which do you choose to do?”

As if moved by a common impulse we both answered with one voice: “That which will make us the most effective instruments, and enable us to do the most good for man.”

“Then two fields of action lie open before you. Brother, let us first hear your choice. We see our way clear to make you Governor of Italy, in which position you can do much good; and after your term is served we will make you Napoleon’s successor as President of Europe. Here, indeed, will your opportunities be vast for good. This is the first path. By the second you become a wandering monk with healing powers, and go begging from place to place, healing disease and teaching men the truths of life. Which do you choose?”

“Can you find others to fill the places of the first?” I asked.

“Our membership, though small, can ever meet all demands,” he answered.

“Then let others take these places of fame and power, but let me humbly administer to mankind’s wants and be a reliever of their woes. I choose path the second.”

Without reply he turned to Iole and said: “Sister, we have an opportunity for you to do much good, and have a request to ask. This request is not of necessity your lot, and you can, if you desire, refuse it.”

“Any requests you may ask are granted in advance,” she answered.

“Grant not before you know; what we ask may be more than you expect—so hear. Napoleon loves you. The mighty genius thinks that in you he has found one worthy of his love, and as a result, you possess great power and influence over him. Now, although made great by us, he is no brother, and is selfish in his nature; but if you will be his wife your just and unselfish commands will be his laws. Through him you can do much good, and at the same time can purify and elevate his nature. Will you be his wife?”

Despite my utmost efforts, an agonizing pang tore through my heart. Had she conquered all her heart’s temptations, overcome all trials and spent her life for naught? Was she to be shut out of the Great Degree and linked to a man to save him? “Ah, God!” I muttered. “All for man!”

“If I can do good and be of benefit to my fellow-creatures, your request is granted and I will be his wife.” She answered clearly and firmly, but there was a sad resignation in her voice.

“And will you love him?”

“As I love all men,” she answered, “but the love that comes to kindred souls it is not within my power to make.”

“But all souls are kindred in the universal Soul,” he answered.

“Truly, but vibrations make them different. If he should make the number of his soul the same as mine, then I would love, not because I willed it, but because I must; and he likewise would love, because sympathetic souls must from their very nature love.”

“Most truly do you speak, my sister,” replied the count. “If all men and women would attune their souls to the universal Soul, or the same vibration, all souls would love with purest love; not because they willed it, but because they, by their nature, must.”

All this time the piercing eyes of the unknown Oriental had been resting upon us; but now for the first time he spoke, addressing St. Germain: “This sister shall not marry, not even Marleon; I have other work for her.”

His voice was clear, yet half-suppressed, and it caused a thrill to run through my body. Evidently, even though half-suppressed, there was some strange power in his speech.

St. Germain answered him with a low bow, and turning to Iole said: “The Master’s word is law, and from henceforth you are in his charge.”

Then turning to me, he said: “Brother Alphonso, your sister Iole goes to the East. If you persevere and do your chosen duty it will be your privilege to join her later. Her labor from now on shall be through the invisible world of mind and soul. Although apparently separated from the world, she will impress and influence all creatures and men. The great hierarchy have adopted her into their inner lodge, and she leaves you until you have the power to join her; but remember that, though separate in body, you are never apart in soul.”

He ceased, and at his motion Iole, giving me one long, soul-communicating gaze left the chamber with the Oriental.

“Now, brother,” said St. Germain, “you are under the jurisdiction of Eral and the western council, which you see here. Meet them tomorrow morning at the château of Count Du Bois. Now you may go.”

At his motion of dismissal I left the room and proceeded to the Durant mansion. Some time had elapsed since I had been at my old home, and in that time I had learned that the Durants were all twenty-year members, and that Camille was now Madame Callais. She was still at home, however, and welcomed me most cordially. M. Callais being a brother was no stranger, and talked with interest upon his chosen field of medicine. Having spent the day among my old friends and made some arrangements with M. Durant, I left the following morning for the château of Count Du Bois. I expected to see Iole no more; but when my carriage drove up was agreeably surprised to meet her at the entrance. Taking my arm she escorted me to our old rooms.

“My dear Cleo,” she said, as we embraced again as lovers, “the great Master has given me permission to communicate to you more advanced instructions. The knowledge and powers we have so far possessed are, indeed, insignificant when compared with those that it lies within our power to obtain. In the morning I leave for the East and you for the West. We shall have the earth between us, yet we shall never be apart; for, while heretofore our distant communica­tions have been mental, from now on we shall meet in the astral world. At last I have learned the secret which enables me to leave my physical body and go far away, fully self-conscious in the astral. For years I have been able to thus leave my tenement of flesh, but I could not make my astral carry my mind in full self-consciousness. This I now can do, and so can you, ere long.

“So while you are in the western world, I will be with you; and as you progress and carry on your labors I will instruct you through the world of mind. In that state called sleep we will every night be close companions; for I will be with you in the West during your day, and you will be with me in the East during mine. But not even yet are all tests over; our life is full of trials; for only by passing through and overcoming trials can we realize our strength and power.

“Trials and sufferings bring us to a full self-conscious realization of our might and unfold our undiscovered possibilities within. We never know and feel our strength until we are tried. Two years of trials and arduous labor lie before you; then will your seven years of probation have expired. During these years you must labor in America, the land of the ancient Atlanteans, and bring light unto the souls unfolding there. In this work you must go alone, a begging mendicant, without home or wealth; from place to place you must journey, doing good and shedding light.

The strength here needed will not be strength of physical endurance, however, but strength of mind and soul; for the people there are deep in the mire of earth and blinded by the lust for power and gold. When they find you do not work for money and seek not gain, their minds, failing to comprehend your actions, will brand you as a fraud; and when you alleviate the misery of the suffering you must suffer as a charlatan, for they know not the powers of occult medicine and will ridicule you as a quack and punish you as a pretender. As a beggar you become a vagrant and subject to their laws of slavery. No matter how much moral or subjective good you do by thought and teaching, you have no visible means of support and cannot justify your actions. But ever persevere, and never lose your faith in truth and duty. Remember that the Protectors are ever around you and you need fear no harm.

“Amid all these trials and sufferings you will find an inner peace, the joy and ecstasy that comes from a knowledge of duty done. Ask no justification from the world, let your conscience be your justifier. Ask no praise from those around you, let your praise come from within. Mind not the scorn and sneers of the world’s deluded ignorant; pity their mistake and continue in your labor. All teachers of the truth must suffer; but this suffering is the fire of sublimation. Slander, misrepresentation, calumny and abuse will be heaped upon you, and you will become the target for every vile tongue; but know that their suffering souls condemn their actions, and pity but heed them not. Let your life be an example for all men to follow, for the example of a life is more powerful than all men’s teachings.

“You have chosen the path of renunciation when fame and power were offered you; you have sacrificed your individual love to labor for mankind; your trials will indeed be great but the end is greater. Like the Buddha, you renounced the throne and loving wife to labor for mankind; and like the Buddha, peace and enlightenment will come to you. When your time has expired, either you will be called or I will join you; duty will determine which. Now let us part; go to your duty in the West, and let no darkness blind you to the light or lead your footsteps from the path.”

Thus her final lecture closed, and with a farewell caress she left the room and I was alone in her apartments. For over a year I had perceived a change in my body; it was filled with an airy feeling and pervaded with a wonderful lightness. I seemed never to tire, and strange to say, day after day required less and less food. But as I was now left alone a still greater sense of bodily freedom came to me; being filled with a tingling sensation I seemed to have no weight, and almost before I knew it fell into a dozing sleep.

The next morning, with nothing but my wearing apparel and a long cape cloak of indigo color, I commenced my pilgrimage. In this attire I passed through the city without being recognized.

At Havre I read a copy of “Des Mondes,” and there learned that Alphonso Colono had mysteriously disappeared, and nothing could be learned of his whereabouts; but it was rumored that he had been taken away by the occult society that for a time was supposed to exert such an influence over Napoleon. This same mysterious fraternity, it was said, took Princess Louise of England some years since. Princess Louise and Colono had both spent much of their time in Paris and were known to have associated with so-called occult adepts. It was said that the princess owed her life to one of these, who saved her in a runaway in the streets of London many years ago.

Then followed a long article on mysterious disappearances and occult societies, the editors commenting upon the large number of prominent persons who had thus disappeared without known cause. Boarding a steamer I continued on my way, thinking how many mysteries the Brothers could explain in the history of the world and prominent individuals.

After fourteen years I again crossed the Atlantic and arrived at New York. Here, without revealing my identity, but on the strength of my otherwise evident position, I called together the American council and asked their co-operation in the formation of a “League of Justice and Mercy”: justice for the innocent and mercy for the suffering and helpless.

Visiting all the lodges I went from city to city and doctors and lawyers were the men whose co-operation I in particular sought; for these two professions, when rightly used, have wonderful power for good. Every one in these professions, whose heart was not atrophied by the lust for self and the dross that men call gain, were organized into a brotherhood to work for justice, mercy and the alleviation of suffering, without pay or price. No case of misery was to be left unattended, no case of injustice allowed to pass unnoticed. Even in the smallest things, justice and humanity was to rule.

But how could such labor be carried on without money? How could the members work thus without pay or price? This truth was then discovered: Men are not blind to humanity, and at heart are good. When it became evident that we worked unselfishly for the good of man, the flood-gates of accumulated stores were opened to us. Men, indeed, had lost nearly all confidence in their fellowmen, and universal selfishness and distrust was threatened; but we restored their confidence and aroused the flickering light within them.

Having with glad heart seen this work successfully established, I once more disappeared, and in the garb of a monk continued my pilgrimage. From town to town I wandered, healing the sick and alleviating suffering. From place to place I journeyed, teaching the great truths of love and duty and the fellowship of men. Universal religion I proclaimed, never ceasing in my efforts to break down the barriers of nations, creeds, wealth and races; but what would one expect to meet if he proclaimed that the essential truths of Krishna, Zoroaster, Buddha and Christ were all the same?

I thought it would be violence, but no. The simple-hearted masses were nearer the truth than many then expected. Narrow-minded teachers had, indeed, perverted their hearts’ judgments, but the seed sown found nourishment and brought its fruit. Only the narrow-minded and deluded bigots feared and fought my words and labor. With rancored hearts they ridiculed the beggar and drove him from their doors; but through all these trials I felt an overshadowing presence, and every night, freed from my corse of flesh, journeyed to the East. As I labored on my powers grew stronger, and became more manifest. Sometimes, in the intense enthusiasm of my discourse, going into transports, the veil of matter would be rent. One day while thus speaking to a vast throng that had gathered around me in the streets of New Orleans, I entered into one of these higher conditions and saw a form, like unto my sister, standing beside me, but invisible to the multitude around.

“Brother,” she said, as plainly as voice could, “let me speak.” Silently I yielded; the next moment I was a spectator and the voice of Iole spoke from my form. In amazement and rapt attention the multitude stood around and listened to her words.

Suddenly a voice commanded me to come with him, and at the same instant I saw St. Germain beside me. Without question or even surprise I obeyed, and felt myself going through space with the rapidity of thought. My body had no weight and was connected to that of St. Germain by a violet thread of misty substance. All around was a world of substance, but the earth I could not see. Suddenly all became a blank, and when I returned to consciousness I found myself—another being? At first I knew not; I was in a strange locality and had another body. My masculine hands were no longer, but instead the delicate white hands of a woman; and dressed in a woman’s robe of white I felt as never before.

Recovering from my amazement, I looked around to find myself in a columned court that somehow looked strangely familiar, although I could not recall the place. Then turning I saw St. Germain beside me. The same, and yet not the same St. Germain of France; his features were the same, but now radiant with a divine light and beauty.

His kindly smile at my astonishment reassured me, and I asked: “Where am I, brother?”

By request of your other self you have been granted some experiences in the ‘Third Degree.’”

As he spoke he held a mirror up before me, and to my increased astonishment I beheld the features of my sister Iole.

Smiling kindly at my surprise, St. Germain said: “By a change of polarity you have assumed the body of your sister and she has assumed yours. Your soul and individuality are the same, but another aspect of it is now manifest. You now feel as your sister felt, and she now feels as you did. This change would not have been permitted but that your souls are one, that is, their number and vibration is the same.”

“And where is Iole?” I asked.

“She is in New Orleans, and you are now in Lhassa.”

“And how long will this exchange continue?”

“Until you both consent to re-exchange.”

“And did I consent to this transfer into her pure and holy body while she takes my impure form?”

“Most certainly you did, or it never could have happened. The soul is master of the form it tenants, and no power can drive it therefrom or replace it against its will. Your body has by your labors been made pure; otherwise Iole, pure soul, could not have entered it.”

“And are such exchanges always good?” I asked.

“All we sanction, yes; many others, no,” he answered. “Many people by becoming passive and surrendering their will, or by degrading their forms through sensuous passions, allow elemental spirits or disembodied demons to enter their bodies. These make the world’s insane and demoniacal possessed. Sometimes, not often, the Masters use these passives, but not unless the form is pure and they can accomplish good through using it.”

“And whence all these strange memories and this wonderful knowledge and light now breaking on my mind?” I asked, as a train of ceaseless thought throbbed through my brain.

“As member of the ‘Third Degree,’ it is within your power to recall your past existences extending back through the vast and shoreless sea of time. These memories, registered deep in the immortal soul, are locked and withheld from untrained minds, for, with memory limited to one short life, how many precious hours are spent in useless lingering on scenes gone by. Only those who realize their soul and sink their minds into its depths can read this endless record. To us who can control our minds and attune them to our souls, these memories, and the vast store of knowledge gathered through many lives gone by, are not withheld.

“Dim and uncertain is the memory which comes through the brain alone; the greatest portion of most men’s lives is blank, and what they are conscious of today is lost tomorrow. Within the eternal memory of the soul are stored the vast accumulations of an endless evolution; and you have now, by your superior development, become conscious in this memory of your unborn and untreated self. But control your mind, or this ceaseless flood will wash you to oblivion; this is the danger to untrained minds. He who cannot control his mind cannot control his thoughts; turn loose this awful torrent in his brain and he would soon succumb and be a madman. They who, unprepared, play with the occult, play with an awful fire and mind-shattering powers. Now, with thy mind controlled, gaze into and read thy past.”

As he spoke the mystery of Iole’s words about past lives became explained; for, carefully watched by St. Germain, my mind went back into the past. Once more I was a Benedictine monk, laboring on the fields of Poitiers, and all that life was recalled.

“Suffer not regret to disturb your mind,” warned St. Germain, as I saw myself once more in the convent on the Pyrenees. “The past is beyond recall; go back.”

And, as by the magic of his words, I was again Cleomedes in beautiful Attica.

“Suffer not emotion to disturb your mind’s serenity,” warned my guide, and once more I proceeded backward. And lo! An Egyptian priestess in the halls of Thebes; then another lifetime back, and still a priestess in the land beside the Nile.

“Go on,” commanded my guide, and—now a Brahman woman in ancient Aryavarta; then a Brahmin monk; then a Kshatriya; and then a dark-faced citizen of that great country where the north Atlantic rolls.

“Return,” said St. Germain, and once more I was in the columned court.

“Now fix thy mind upon the yellow chakra and read and see; go to any place on earth thou wilt.”

No sooner had the adept spoken than my vision seemed to ignore the quality of place, and I was looking at a sleeping form reposing in a little cottage room in New Orleans.

It is myself—no, my former temple, now in charge of sister. “Hasten!” commanded my guide; and from place to place, continent to continent, even to the impossible and secluded places do I fly; all the world is open to my vision.

“Cross not the depths of space, thy will has not sufficient strength; much higher yet must thou go before thou canst its mysteries know, unless thou learnest them from their presence in the world, and that little world—thyself. Return!”

Again I came back to consciousness within the court.

“Brother,” said St. Germain, “you have seen a few of the mysteries of life, but only the smallest portion of the whole.”

“O that men could realize the grandeur of life and the sublimity of his nature!” I exclaimed, as my thoughts recurred to the blind and deluded world.

“All will in time,” replied St. Germain.

“But how vast the time, how slow the progress,” I replied.

“Yes; but little by little, one by one, we gather them into the Great Brotherhood.”

“But how many new souls come for the few we gain,” I said.

“The number of souls in the present universe is fixed; no new ones come. The transmigratory flow from the universe before us has ceased. From now on every brother we receive is a net gain. Do not for a moment think that souls are created for every new-born body—’tis not so. The body cannot be the cause of soul, the low cannot cause the high. Can the temporary cause the eternal? Can body cause spirit? No; spirit, perverted as desire, prompts the formation of bodies. If God had to create a soul for every body, He would be subject to the lusts and caprices of men, a subservient maker of souls for bodies; whereas the reverse is true, and bodies are made for souls. If the soul was made for the body, and the body was the cause that called it into existence, then does death of body end the soul’s existence. But the reverse is true; the body is created or formed for disembodied souls.”

“But,” I asked, “can the spirit or soul prompt the low and lustful acts which produce some bodies?”

“Pure spirit—no; pure souls—no; but spirit perverted as desire and lost souls—yes. You must remember that those who have damned themselves in former lives continue to seek new forms, and they prompt these monstrous deeds of vice. Woe to those through whom these lost souls work, for they only seek those who have like natures.

“But, brother,” he said, changing the subject, “your seven years of probation are up, and it is your privilege to be initiated into the ‘Third Degree,’ a few of whose mysteries you have just seen. Now, as in the lower degrees, even here there are two routes, and you must choose which you will take.”

“Has Iole chosen?” I asked.

“She has chosen and passed on,” he answered.

“Then let me as her companion choose the same.”

“No one can thus choose; the paths I state, and you must take your choice. The first is that you continue your labors in the world until the time arrives for the natural dissolution of your body. The second is a trance interment and continued life in a self-conscious astral. Which do you choose?”

He paused, and for a moment I hesitated; then thinking it was selfish to wish to get rid of my body before its natural time, I answered: “I take path the first and continued labor in the world.”