The Masters and the Path

C. W. Leadbeater



Part III

The Great Initiations


Chapter 7

The First Initiation



The One Initiatior

Most people when they think of Initiation have in mind a step to be gained for themselves. They think of the Initiate as a man who has developed himself very highly, and has become a great and glorious figure, as compared with the man of the outer world. That is true; but the whole question will be better understood if we try to look down on it from a higher point of view. The importance of Initiation does not lie in the exaltation of an individual, but in the fact that he has now become definitely one with a great Order, the Communion of Saints, as it is very beautifully put in the Christian Church, though few ever pay attention to the real meaning of those words.

The stupendous reality that lies behind Initiation into the Brotherhood will be better understood after we have considered the organization of the Occult Hierarchy and the work of the Masters, to be dealt with in later chapters. The Candidate has now become more than an individual man, because he is a unit in a tremendous force. On every planet the Solar Logos has his Representative, acting as his Viceroy. On our globe the title given to this great Official is the Lord of the World. He is the Head of the Brotherhood; and the Brotherhood is not only a body of Men each of whom has his own duties to perform; it is also a stupendous unity—a fully flexible instrument in the Lord’s hand, a mighty weapon that he can wield. There is a marvellous and incomprehensible plan by which the One, having become many, is now becoming One again; not that any unit in the whole scheme will lose the least fraction of his individuality or power as a unit, but that he has added to it something a thousand times greater; he is part of the Lord, part of the body that he wears, the weapon that he uses, the organ upon which he plays, the implement with which he does his work.

In all the world there is but One Initiator, but in the case of the first and second Initiations it is open to him to depute some other Adept to perform the ceremony for him, though even then that Officiant turns and calls upon the Lord at the critical moment of the conferring of the degree. This is a very wonderful moment in the candidate’s spiritual life, as was explained by the Master Kuthumi, when accepting a pupil not long ago. He said to him:

Now that you have attained the immediate goal of your aspiration, I would exhort you at once to turn your attention to the far greater requirements of the next step. That for which you have now to prepare, the ‘entering upon the stream’ which the Christians call salvation, will be the salient point in the long line of your earthly existences, the culmination of seven hundred lives. Ages ago, by individualization, you entered the human kingdom; in a future which I trust is not remote, you will quit it by the door of Adeptship, and become a Superman; between these two extremes is no point of greater importance than that Initiation towards which you should now turn your thoughts. Not only will it make you safe for ever, but it will admit you to that Brotherhood which exists from eternity unto eternity—the Brotherhood which helps the world.

Think then with how great care so wondrous an event should be approached. I would have you keep the glory and the beauty of it constantly before your mind, that you may live in the light of its ideals. Your body is young for so mighty an effort, but you have a rare and splendid opportunity; I want you to take it to the full.

The Brotherhood

When an ego is initiated he becomes part of the closest organization in the world; he is now one with the vast sea of consciousness of the Great White Brotherhood. For a long time the new Initiate will not be able to understand all that this union implies, and he must penetrate far into the sanctuaries before he can realize how close is the link, and how great is that consciousness of the King himself, which all Brothers to a certain extent share with him. It is incomprehensible and inexpressible down here; metaphysical and subtle it is beyond words, but nevertheless a glorious reality, real to such an extent that when we begin to grasp it everything else seems unreal.

We have seen how the accepted pupil may lay his thought beside that of the Master; so now may the Initiate put his thought beside that of the Brotherhood and draw into himself just as much of that tremendous consciousness as he at his level is able to appreciate; and ever as he draws it into himself he will be able to receive more of it, and his own consciousness will widen out so that narrowness of thought will become impossible for him. And just as the accepted pupil must take care not to cause disturbance in the lower vehicles of the Master, lest he should interfere with the perfection of his work, so must a member of the Brotherhood never introduce anything discordant into that mighty consciousness, which is acting as a whole.

He must remember that not by any means the whole of the Brotherhood is doing the same work as our Masters. Many of them are engaged in other labours which require the utmost concentration and the most perfect calm, and if some of the younger members should sometimes forget their high calling, and cause ripples of annoyance to disturb the Brotherhood, it would affect the work of those Greater Ones. Our own Masters might perhaps overlook that, and be willing to endure a little occasional worry of that kind for the sake of the future when the new member will be making really great use of the powers of the Brotherhood; but we can quite understand that those who have nothing to do with the training of individuals might say: “Our work is being disturbed, and it is better that those who have such immature personalities should stay outside.” They would say that nothing was lost, that progress can be made just as well outside, and that pupils could go on making themselves better and stronger and wiser before gaining Initiation.

So wonderful is the expansion of the Initiate’s consciousness that it is most apt to speak of the change as a new birth. He begins to lead a new life “as a little child,” the life of the Christ; and the Christ, the intuitional or buddhic consciousness, is born within his heart. He has also now the power to give the blessing of the Brotherhood—a tremendous and overwhelming force, which he is able to give or send to anyone, as he judges to be most appropriate and useful. The power of the Brotherhood will flow through him just as much as he will let it flow; it is for him to use the power and to remember that he has the entire responsibility of directing it for whatever purpose he may choose. The benediction given by the Officiant at Initiation means: “I bless you; I pour my force and benison into you; see that you in your turn constantly pour out this good-will upon others.”

The more confidence the new Initiate has the greater will be the flow of force through him. If he feels the least hesitation, or is weighed down by the responsibility of letting such a tremendous power flow through him, he will not be able to use this wonderful gift to the full; but if he has that qualification of Shraddha—perfect trust in his Master and in the Brotherhood, and the utter certainty that because he is one with them all things are possible to him—he may go through the world as a veritable angel of light, shedding joy and benediction around his path.

The consciousness of the Great White Brotherhood is an indescribably wonderful thing. It is like a great calm shining ocean, so strangely one that the least thrill of consciousness flashes from end to end of it instantaneously, and yet to each member it seems to be absolutely his own individual consciousness, though with a weight and a power and a wisdom behind it that no single human consciousness could ever have. This magnificent sea of “cosmic consciousness” of the Brotherhood is something so great, so wonderful, that there is nothing else in the world like it: even those who belong to it by virtue of having passed the First Great Initiation can catch only glimpses of it, can remember only a little of it here and there. It can be felt fully only on the nirvanic plane, on which the Brotherhood primarily exists, though it has its manifestation on the lower planes, even down to the physical world.

As the band of pupils is all one in the Master, so is the Brotherhood all one in its Lord. The members may freely discuss a point among themselves, yet it is as though different aspects of a case presented themselves in the same mind, and were by that mind weighed one against the other; but one is all the time in the presence of a tremendous, an almost awful serenity, a certainty which nothing can ever disturb. And yet somehow in all that every suggestion is welcomed; indeed, there is the sensation that the whole Brotherhood is alertly and eagerly waiting for each individual’s contributions to the subject before it. There is nothing down here to which this consciousness can be adequately compared; to touch it is to come into contact with something new and strange, yet inexpressibly wonderful and beautiful, something which needs no evidence and no comparison, but asserts itself to be of a higher and unknown world.

Though individualities are so strangely merged in this, yet are they at the same time sharply separated, for the assent of each Brother is required to every decision of importance. The rule of the King is absolute, yet he carries his vast council with him, and is at every moment willing to consider any point that occurs to any member of it. But this great governing body differs utterly from any parliament of earth. Those who stand above the rest in positions of authority have not been elected, nor have they been appointed by some party organization; they hold their positions because they have won them—won them by superior development and greater wisdom. None doubts the decision of his superior, because he knows that he really is a superior—that he has greater insight and a fuller power to decide. There is, there can be, no shadow of compulsion that these Supermen shall think or act alike; yet is their confidence in their mighty organization so perfect that it is unthinkable that in the long run they should differ; it is only in the case of such a Brotherhood under such a King that we can fully realize the beautiful wording of one of the Collects of the Church of England: “In his service is perfect freedom.”


In such an organization there should surely be no possibility of failure or trouble of any sort; and yet, because humanity is frail, and because not all members of this great Brotherhood are yet Supermen, failures do sometimes occur, although they are very rare. “Great ones fall back even from the threshold, unable to sustain the weight of their responsibility, unable to pass on,” as is said in Light on the Path, and only the attainment of Adeptship ensures perfect safety. The Initiator tells the candidate that now he has entered upon the stream he is safe for ever; but although that is so, it is still possible for him to delay his progress to a most serious extent, if he yields to any of the tempta­tions that still beset his path. To be safe for ever is usually taken to betoken the certainty of passing onward with the present life-wave—of not being left behind at the “day of judgment” which comes in the middle of the fifth Round, when the Christ who has descended into matter decides what souls can and what souls cannot be carried on to final attainment in this chain of worlds. There is no eternal con­demnation; it is, as the Christ said, simply aeonian; there are some who cannot go in this age or dispensation, but they will follow along in the next, precisely as a child who is too dull to succeed in this year’s class will drift comfortably along in next year’s, and will probably even be at the head of it.

When the sad and terrible thing does occur—when there is a failure of any sort among Initiates, a thrill of pain runs through the whole of that vast consciousness, for the separation of one from the rest is of the nature of a veritable surgical operation, tearing the heartstrings of all. Only with the uttermost regret does the Brotherhood ever thus sever a member from itself, and even when it does so the erring Brother is not finally cut off, however far he may stray. He will be brought back again some time, somehow, somewhere; there is a link that cannot be broken, although we know little of the weary road of trial and suffering that he must tread before he can again weld it together with the rest.

The Voice of the Silence remains within him, and though he leave the path utterly, yet one day it will resound, and rend him asunder, and separate his passions from his divine possibilities. Then with pain and desperate cries from the deserted lower self, he will return.[1]

Others there be who fall away only for a short time, through some outburst of such feeling as is quite impossible for the Brotherhood to endure. Then, just as a Master may drop a temporary veil between himself and an erring disciple, so the Brotherhood finds it necessary to make for a time a sort of cyst round one of its members who fails it. The whole force of the Brotherhood is turned upon one who is failing in that way, so that, if it be at all possible they may prevent him from overstepping the boundary. But sometimes, even in spite of all the strength which the Brotherhood is permitted by the law of karma to use, a member still declines to give up his petty personal attitude of supposed injury, or offence, or whatever it may be; then they must encyst him for a while until he learn better.

The formula of Initiation has been unchanged throughout the ages, yet there is a certain elasticity about it. The Initiator’s Charge to the candidate is always the same so far as the first part of it goes, but almost invariably there is a second and personal part which consists practically of advice to the particular candidate who is going through. This is usually called the private part of the Charge. I have also seen instances in which an image is made of the candidate’s worst enemy and he is asked how he would deal with him, whether he is fully prepared to forgive him absolutely, and whether he would help even one so low as this if it came in his way. In some cases also questions are asked as to the work already done by the candidate, and those who have been helped by him are sometimes invited to come forward and bear witness. An account of the ceremony is subjoined.

Account of a First Initiation

As the Wesak Festival was this year (1915) on the morning of May 29th, the night of May 27th was chosen for the Initiation of the Candidate, and we were all instructed to hold ourselves in readiness. In this case the Lord Maitreya was the Initiator, and consequently the ceremony took place in his garden. When the Master Morya or the Master Kuthumi performs the rite it is usually held in the ancient cave temple, the entrance to which is near the bridge across the river between their houses. There was a large gathering of the Adepts, all those whose names are familiar to us being present. The glorious garden was at its best; the rhododendron bushes were one blaze of crimson blossom, and the air was fragrant with the scent of the early roses. The Lord Maitreya sat in his usual place on the marble seat which runs round the great tree in front of his house; and the Masters grouped themselves in a semicircle on his right and left, on seats which were placed for them on the grass terrace from which the marble seat rises by a couple of steps. But the Lord Vaivasvata Manu and the Mahachohan sat also on the marble seat, one on each side of the arms of the specially raised carved throne which faces exactly south, which is called the Throne of Dakshinamurti.

The candidate, with the Master who introduced him, stood on the next stage of the terrace, at the feet of the Lord, and behind and below them were other pupils, initiated and uninitiated, and a few privileged spectators who were allowed to see a good deal of the ceremony, though at certain times a veil of golden light hid from them the proceedings of the central figures. The candidate was, as always, dressed in flowing robes of white linen, while the Masters were mostly clad in white silk, deeply edged with magnificent gold embroidery.

A great host of Angels floated above the group, filling the air with a soft ripple of melody, which, in some strange and subtle way, seemed to draw out of the chord of the candidate an intricate interwoven web of sound, expressing his qualities and possibilities; throughout the ceremony this went singing on, delicately supporting all words that were spoken, and no more interrupting them than the soft laughter of a stream interrupts the thrilling music of the birds, but swelling to a triumphant climax at certain points of the ritual. The music made the air vocal—enriching, not drowning, the tones of the speakers. In every case the music is founded upon the special chord of each candidate, and weaves variations and fugues upon it, expressing, in a way that we down here cannot comprehend, all that he is and all that he will be.

In the centre of the scene stood the candidate, between his Proposer and Seconder. He was led forward by his own Teacher, the Master Kuthumi, and the Master Jesus stood as his Seconder. The Lord Maitreya smiled as he asked the opening question of the ritual:

“Who is this that you thus bring before Me?”

Our Master gave the usual reply:

“This is a candidate who seeks admission to the great Brotherhood.”

Then came the next question:

“Do you vouch for him as worthy of admission?”

And the usual answer:

“I do.”

“Will you undertake to guide his steps along the Path which he desires to enter?”

And the Proposer said: “I will.”

“Our rule requires that two of the higher Brethren shall vouch for every candidate; is any other Brother prepared to support this application?”

Then for the first time the Seconder spoke, saying:

“I am prepared to do so.”

The Initiator asked:

“You have evidence that if additional powers are conferred upon him, they will be used for the furtherance of the Great Work?”

And the Master Kuthumi replied:

“This candidate’s life this time has been short, but even already he has many good deeds to his credit, and he is beginning to do our work in the world. Also in his life in Greece he did much to spread my philosophy, and to improve the country in which he lived.”

And the Master Jesus added:

“Through two lives of vast influence he patiently did my work, righting wrong and introducing a noble ideal in his life as a ruler, and spreading abroad the teaching of love and purity and unworldliness in his incarnation as a monk. For these reasons I stand by his side now.”

Then the Lord, smiling upon the boy, said:

“The body of this candidate is the youngest that has ever been presented to us for the honour of reception into the Brotherhood; is any member of our Brotherhood who still lives in the outer world ready to give him on our behalf such help and counsel as his young physical body may need?”

Sirius came forward from a group of pupils who stood behind, and said:

“Lord, in so far as I am able, and while I remain within reach of his body, I will most gladly do for him all that I possibly can.”

Then said the Lord:

“Is your heart full of true brotherly love for this young candidate, so that you can give such guidance as should be given?”

Sirius answered: “It is.”

The Lord spoke for the first time directly to the candidate:

“Do you in turn love this brother, so that you will willingly be helped by him when necessary?”

And the young man replied:

“Indeed I do, with all my heart, for without him I could not have stood here.”

The Lord bowed his head gravely, and the Masters put the candidate forward so that he stood before the Initiator. Fixing his eyes upon him, the Lord said:

“Do you desire to join the Brotherhood which exists from eternity unto eternity?”

The youth replied:

“I do, Lord, if you think that I am fit to do so while my body is still so young.”

The Initiator asked:

The usual questions as to astral knowledge and astral work were then put to the candidate. Many astral objects were shown to him and he had to tell the Initiator what they were. He had to distinguish between the astral bodies of a living man and a dead man, between a real person and a thought-image of a person, and between a Master and an exact imitation of him. Then the Initiator showed him many astral cases and asked how he would help in each, and he replied as well as he could. At the end he smiled and said that the answers were very satisfactory.

The Initiator then delivered the Charge—a very solemn and beautiful address—part of which is always to the same effect, though something personal to each candidate is generally added. This Charge explains the work of the Brotherhood in the world, and the responsibility which rests on each member individually, for each has to share in the bearing of the great burden of the sorrows of the world. Each must be ready to help both by service and by counsel, for it is one Brotherhood, acting under one Law and one Head, and each Brother has the privilege of putting any local knowledge or special faculty that he may possess at the disposition of the Brotherhood for the furtherance of any department of their great work of aiding the progress of humanity. Although the rule of the King is absolute, no decision of importance is taken without the consent of even the youngest member of the Brotherhood. Each is a representative of the Brotherhood in whatever part of the world he may be, and each is pledged to be at the disposal of the Brotherhood, to go wherever he is sent, to work in any way that is required. While younger members will naturally implicitly obey the Heads, they may yet help by local knowledge, and may always suggest anything that seems to them of possible use.

Each Brother living in the world must remember that he is a centre through which the force of the King may be sent for the helping of those who are in need, and that any older Brother may at any time use him as a channel for his blessing. Therefore each younger Brother should always be ready to be so used at any moment, for he never can tell when his services may be required. The life of the Brother should be one of entire devotion to others; he should watch eagerly and incessantly for every opportunity of rendering service, and let such service be his keenest joy. He must remember that the honour of the Brotherhood is in his hands, and he must see to it that no word or act of his shall ever sully it in the eyes of men, or cause them to think of it one whit less highly.

He must not think that, because he has entered the stream, trial and struggle will cease for him; on the contrary, he will have to make still greater efforts, but he will have greater strength to make them. His power will be far greater than before: but in exactly the same proportion his responsibility is greater also. He must remember that it is not he, a separated self, who has gained a step which has lifted him above his fellows; rather he should rejoice that humanity through him has risen a little, has freed itself to this small extent from its chains, has come into this much more of its own. The blessing of the Brotherhood is ever with him; but it will descend upon him precisely in the measure in which he passes it on to others; for this is the eternal law.

That is part of the Charge which is always given. As a private admonition to this candidate the Initiator added:

“Your body is very young to bear so heavy a responsibility as this great gift of Initiation; yet that very youth offers you an opportunity as wonderful as any that has ever fallen to the lot of man. It has been earned by the karma of your previous lives of self-sacrifice; see to it that in this body you prove yourself worthy of it. We trust you to show that in deciding to open the doors to you so soon we have chosen wisely: remember always the absolute unity that exists between us all who are members of the One Brotherhood, so that its dignity shall never suffer at your hands. Beginning thus early, you may go very far in this incarnation; the climb will be steep, but your strength and love will be sufficient for it. Cultivate wisdom; learn perfect control of all your vehicles; develop in yourself alertness, decision, farsightedness; remember that I expect you to be ready to act as a trusty lieutenant for Me when I come forth to teach the world. You have won your way so far by the wealth of your love; let that love ever increase and strengthen, and it shall carry you through to the end.”

Then the Lord turned to the other Masters and said:

“I find this candidate satisfactory; do all present agree to his reception into our Company?”

And all answered: “We agree.”

Then the initiator rose from his seat and turned towards Shamballa, and called aloud:

“Do I this, O Lord of Life and Light and Glory, in Thy Name and for Thee?”

Over his head in response flashed forth the Blazing Star which conveys the assent of the King, and all bowed low before it, while the Angel music rang out in a triumphant burst like some great royal march. And to these strains the candidate advanced, led by the two Masters, and knelt before him who represented the One who alone can grant admission to the Brotherhood. A line of dazzling light, like a flash of lightning standing still, extended from the star to the heart of the Initiator, and from him to the heart of the candidate. Under the influence of that tremendous magnetism, the tiny Silver Star of Consciousness which represents the Monad in the candidate swelled out in glowing brilliancy until it filled his causal body, and for a wonderful moment the Monad and the ego were one, even as they will be permanently when Adeptship is attained. The Lord placed his hands upon the head of the candidate, and, calling him by his true name, said:

“In the Name of the One Initiator, whose Star shines above us, I receive you into the Brotherhood of Eternal Life. See to it that you are a worthy and useful member of it. You are now safe for ever; you have entered upon the Stream: may you soon reach the further shore!”

The Angel music pealed forth in a great ocean of sweet, glad sound, and seemed to fill the very air with strength and joy. And the Initiator and the kneeling candidate and his sponsors were almost veiled in the loveliest of colours, which brought the blessings of the Manu and the Mahachohan on their waves, and the exquisite golden light of the Flower of earth’s Humanity, of Gautama, the Lord Buddha, hovered over them in benediction, for another child of Man had entered on the Path. And the Silver Star seemed for a moment to expand and enfold the Initiator and the new Brother in its blinding glory. And when they came forth from that glory the robe of the neophyte was no longer linen, but white silk, like those of the other Initiates.

The picture when the Initiator made his own causal body glow, and that of the new Initiate glowed out in response, was enthrallingly beautiful. Green and golden light shone out, and the Monad—normally appearing but as a speck of light within the permanent atom of the causal body—shone forth resplendently, so that the brilliant nucleus swelled out and occupied the whole oval. The Monad on this occasion identifies himself for the time with the fraction of himself that is the ego, and it is he who takes the vows. The effect on the astral body is also most interesting; a great rhythmical swing is given to it, without disturbing the stability of its equilibrium, so that it is able thenceforth to feel with far greater keenness than before, without being shaken from its own base, or escaping from its owner’s control. The Initiator sets the swing, reproducing his own vibration in the astral body of the neophyte, and at the same time steadying it, so that there is no shaking, no disturbance, but an immensely increased power of vibration.

When all this had been done, the Initiator gave the Key of Knowledge to the new Brother, and instructed him how he might infallibly recognize astrally any member of the Brotherhood who was not personally known to him. He directed some of the older pupils of the Masters to attend as soon as might be to the necessary buddhic exercises, and the great ceremony ended with the blessing of the new Initiate by the assembled Brothers. The new Brother in turn then gave the blessing of the Brotherhood to the world, wielding thus for the first time the new and mighty power which had been conferred upon him. As the blessing plays round and through the world, adding new life to everything, giving to each a little more force, a little more beauty, a multitudinous murmur fills the air, myriad whispers that form themselves into a song of deep delight and gratitude. Another force for good has been made manifest, and Nature, that groans and travails with her children, rejoices when one of them enters the Brotherhood that shall at last deliver her from pain. For the life of the world is One Life, and when real progress is made by any unit, all Nature shares in the gain, even that part of it which we so wrongly call inanimate.

So the wonderful ceremony ended, and the Masters gathered round the new Brother and gave him hearty congratulations as the Blazing Star disappeared.

On the following night I had orders to present the neophyte to the Lord of the World. This is of course a very unusual honour, and not in any way part of the ceremony of the First Initiation. It generally accompanies the Third. We repaired to Shamballa at the appointed time, and were received in the great hall as usual. We found the King in conversation with the Lord Gautama Buddha and the Lord Maitreya. The latter presented the neophyte to the King as “our newest Brother, the ever-glowing Love-Star,” and Sanat Kumara smiled graciously upon the youth as he knelt before him. The neophyte raised his hands in the Eastern salutation, and the King put forth his right hand and grasped them as he said to him:

You have done well, my son, and I am pleased with you; I have called you thus before me to tell you so. Go on and do better still, for I expect you to play a great part in the future of my new Sub-race. My star shone over you visibly a few hours ago; remember that it hovers over you always, just as really, when you cannot see it; and where it shines there shall ever be power, purity and peace.”

Then the Lord Buddha, laying his hand upon the neophyte’s head, spoke:

“I also wish to give you my blessing and my congratulations; for I think that your rapid progress now is an earnest of that which is to come, and that in the future I shall greet you as a Brother of the Glorious Mystery, a member of the Spiritual Dynasty through whom light comes to the worlds.”

The Three Kumaras who stood behind smiled also upon the youth as he knelt speechless, but glowing with love and adoration. The King raised his hand in blessing while we prostrated ourselves, and we came away.

The Length of the Ceremony

The time occupied by the ceremony of Initiation varies according to several considerations, one of which is the amount of knowledge that the candidate brings with him. Some traditions put the period as three days and nights, but it is often finished in much less time. One at which I was present took two nights and a day of seclusion, but others have been condensed into one night, by leaving much that used to be included to be finished later by the higher pupils of the Masters. Some of the old Initiations lasted so long because the candidates had to be instructed in astral work. There are also buddhic experiences which must he realized, for a certain amount of development of the buddhic vehicle is required for Initiation, as some of the teachings which must be given at that level could not otherwise be understood. Most Theosophists have already done astral work, and thus have learnt the detail of the astral world, much of which must be taught at this time if it is not already known. But when the Initiator knows that the candidate has already some buddhic development it has several times been left to older pupils to carry the candidates through the buddhic experiences on the following night, or whenever it could he arranged.

The actual ceremony of Initiation takes less than six hours, but a certain amount of time is given to the candidates both before and afterwards. The Masters always congratulate the candidates after the Initiation, and each says a few kindly words. They take the opportunity of such a gathering to transmit certain orders to their pupils; and generally it is an occasion of great rejoicing, at any rate among all the younger members. It is a victory for all when another neophyte is admitted, when one more is safe for ever.


We have already spoken of the close relation between an accepted pupil and his Master; all the time this intimacy has been steadily growing, and it usually happens that when the pupil is approaching the portal of Initiation the Master considers that the time is ripe for him to draw the chela into a still deeper union. He is then called the Son of the Master, and the link is such that not only the lower mind but also the ego in the causal body of the pupil is enfolded within that of the Adept, and the latter can no longer draw a veil to cut off the neophyte.

A wise Frenchman once said: “Dans tous les amours, il y a un qui aime et un qui se laisse être aimé.”  [In all love, there is one who loves and one who lets himself be loved.] This is profoundly true in nine cases out of ten in human love. Often the reason for it is that one of the two souls concerned is greater and more developed than the other, and therefore capable of a far deeper love; the younger soul appreciates that wealth of affection, and returns it to the extent of his capacity, but his best effort falls far short of the wonderful gift poured out so easily and naturally by his elder. Always that must be the case with regard to the Master and his pupil.

Another point. The affection with which we meet in ordinary life is not infrequently unstable, fluctuating, capable of ready discouragement; it may be alienated by coldness, unkindness, lack of response; it may even be changed into dislike if its object violates our canons of conduct, or acts in some way that horrifies or disgusts us. But there is a truer and a deeper affection that nothing can shake—a love which recks nothing of response, which is utterly unaffected by neglect, indifference or even unworthiness on the part of its object—which would indeed feel bitter anguish and regret if that object committed a crime or disgraced himself in any way, but would never for a moment decrease in strength, would lose not a single degree of its fervency whatever the loved one might do.

Of that nature is the love of God for his world; of that nature also must be the love of the Master for those to whom he gives the ineffable privilege of Sonship. He trusts them wholly; he voluntarily resigns the power to separate them from himself, because only by that utter and unbreakable union with them is he enabled to share with them his own nature to the very fullest extent of their power of response—only by this sacrifice of himself can he give them the utmost which a pupil can receive from a Master.

Thus it may truly be said that he puts himself at the mercy of his pupil. Just think of the awful responsibility which that throws upon us!

Rare though it be, such love is found sometimes among men in this our physical world too; but when it exists, it has always that same quality and that same result; it places the higher in the hands of the lower, so that the supremest love is ever also the supremest sacrifice. Yet this utter sacrifice, this utmost resignation of the self brings with it a keener joy than aught else on earth can confer, for such love alone is god-like, such self-surrender bears the man into the very heart of Christ. Indeed is it true that such “love shall cover the multitude of sins,”[2] that “her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.”[3]

There is a beautiful reference to this state of closest union in Light on the Path, where it is written: “’My peace I give unto you’ can only be said by the Master to the beloved disciples who are as himself.” And so these are they who have the inestimable privilege of being able to pass on that peace to others in all its fullness. Any accepted pupil of the Master has the right and the duty to bless in his Name, and a splendid outpouring of the Master’s power will assuredly follow his effort to do so. Especially should he give that blessing mentally whenever he enters a house: “May the blessing of the Master rest on this house and on all who live therein.” But the Son of the Master can give the very touch of his intimate presence, a fuller and a greater peace. He who is a Son of the Master either is or soon will be a member of the Great White Brotherhood also; and that, as we have said, gives the power to wield an even greater blessing, though both are appropriate, each in its several place.

I well remember giving each of these on different occasions to a great Angel of the neighbourhood with whom I have the honour to be well acquainted. Passing close to his territories in a vessel I gave him once as a greeting the full blessing of my Master, and it was indeed beautiful to see the way in which he received it, bowing profoundly and showing his appreciation by a lovely soft glow of holiness and uttermost devotion. Another day under similar circumstances I gave him the blessing of the Brotherhood, and instantly every power of that great Angel flashed out in glad response, and the whole of his territory lit up. It was as though a soldier had leapt to attention, as though everything, not only within himself but in all the thousands of minor creatures working under him, had suddenly been vivified and raised to its highest power. All nature instantly responded. You see, my Master, however deeply reverenced by him, is not his Master, but my King is his King, for there is but One.

The Level of Initiation

The question as to whether a man is approaching fitness for Initiation involves three separate sets of considerations, all depending upon one another. The first is as to whether he is in possession of a sufficient amount of the necessary qualifications, as laid down in At The Feet of the Master, and that means that he must have a minimum of all, and very much more than a minimum of some of them. To illustrate this, think for a moment of the method adopted in marking papers at certain examinations. It is determined beforehand by the examiners that no candidate shall be allowed to pass who falls, below a certain minimum in each of the subjects; but the percentage required in each subject is very low—say twenty-five per cent. Anyone who fails to secure twenty-five per cent of the marks in any subject will fail; but nevertheless one who secures exactly that amount in each of the subjects will not succeed, for not only are separate minima set for the different subjects, but there is also a total minimum—let us say forty per cent. One therefore who falls as low as twenty-five or thirty per cent in one or two of his subjects must make very much more than that in several other subjects in order to attain the average required.

This is precisely the method adopted in Occultism; there must be a certain amount of each of these qualifications present in the successful candidate, but he must have very thoroughly developed some of them. A candidate cannot succeed if he be entirely lacking in discrimination; yet if he shows much less of that than he should, an overflowing flood of love may perhaps be accepted as atoning for it. Secondly, the ego must have so trained his lower vehicles that he can function perfectly through them when he wishes to do so; he must have effected what in our earlier Theosophical literature was called the junction of the lower and higher self; and thirdly, he must be strong enough to stand the great strain involved, which extends even to the physical body.

As to the level of progress at which he will be initiated, there is room for very great variety. It would be a mistake to suppose that all Initiates are equal in development, just as it would be unsafe to assume that all men who have taken the degree of Master of Arts are equal in knowledge. It is quite possible that a candidate might have done exceedingly well in many of the qualities required, and be far beyond the total minimum, and yet be seriously deficient and below the minimum standard in one subject; it would then, of course, be necessary for him to wait till he had the minimum in that neglected subject, and no doubt while he was acquiring that he would be developing the others still further.

It is therefore obvious that while there is a certain attainment required for Initiation, some of those who are presented for it may have achieved far more than that in some directions. We see, too, that there is likely to be considerable variation in the interval between Initiations. One man who has just now been able to take the first may nevertheless possess a considerable share of the qualifications for the second; there­fore for him the interval between the two might be unusually short. On the other hand, a candidate who had only just sufficient strength in all directions to enable him to pass through the first, would have slowly to develop within himself all the additional faculties and knowledge necessary for the second, so his interval would probably be long.

The Present Opportunity

We have now entered upon a period in the world’s history in which progress at all levels of evolution can be very rapid, because the near Coming of the World-Teacher has set up so strong a tide of thought and feeling about spiritual things, all in the direction of progress, that anyone who now makes an effort along that line finds himself swimming with the current and advancing swiftly. This refers not merely to the current of human thought and feeling; in fact, human thought is but a very small part of that tide, for the human beings who know anything definite as to the nearness of the Coming are but a minority. What counts most is the tremendously powerful thought and feeling of the vast hosts of the great Angels who know of the plan, and are trying in every way to help it.

Such rapid progress is, however, a very decided strain—a thing which few aspirants sufficiently realize. The student of occultism who sets before himself the idea of hastening his development will do well to remember that one of the necessities is good physical health. He wishes to make in one life the progress which under ordinary circumstances would be distributed over twenty or more, and as the amount that has to be done is the same in either case (for no reduction whatever has been made in the standard of the requirements for Initiation) it is obvious that he must work all his vehicles very much harder if he is to succeed.

It is possible on the physical plane to shorten the period of study usually assigned to any given examination; but a man can do it only by putting a far greater tax upon his brain, his attention, his eyesight, his power of endurance; and we all know how fatally easy it is for him to strain himself in any one of these directions, and thereby seriously to injure his physical health. Similar conditions attend upon the efforts to hasten spiritual evolution; it can be done, and it has been done, and is a very fine thing for any man to do, always with this proviso, that he must watch very carefully against overstrain, lest in the ultimate he should delay his development instead of advancing it. It is not sufficient to have good physical health at the beginning of one’s endeavour; it is also necessary to preserve it until the end, for the progress itself is but a means to an end, and we try to develop ourselves not that we may become great and wise, but that we may have the power and the knowledge to work for humanity to the best effect. We must never forget that Occultism is above all the apotheosis of common sense.

Young Initiates

Hitherto, except very rarely, persons have been initiated only after their physical bodies have come to mature age, and after they have proved by their activities in life that their hearts are pledged to the work of the Logos. During the last few years, however, certain egos whose bodies are still young have been given the privilege of Initiation, and we understand that this has been done in order that when the Lord comes he may find a band of young workers ready to serve him. On his arrival the World-Teacher will wield the wondrous consciousness of the Brotherhood, and the more helpers dwelling in physical bodies that he can draw round him at any given place, the more will his work be facilitated. He can use the services of any ordinary man of the world to the extent of that man’s capacity; but one who is already an accepted pupil of the Master would be of far more use to him in many directions than the man of the world could ever be; and of almost infinitely greater use still would be one who had passed the portal of Initiation and had awakened all the multiple links which bind together the members of the Brotherhood. It is always the ego who is initiated; the age of the physical body which it happens to be holding at a given time has little to do with the case.

In all cases when young people have been initiated, elder members of the Brotherhood living near to them or in touch with them in the physical body have undertaken to assist and guide them. This is necessary, because of the great responsibility that Initiation brings along with its expansion of consciousness and additional faculty and power. A wrong action or a false step on the part of an Initiate involves bigger karmic consequences than a similar action on the part of one who is not a member of the Brotherhood. Therefore perhaps it will be well to include here a few directions for these younger people.

Each one should ever remember that he was initiated because in past lives, and perhaps in the present one, he has helped the world to a certain requisite degree, and it is hoped that he will continue in that path and become an ever larger channel for the life of the Logos. It is because of the probability of his increased usefulness that he is admitted to Initiation, and at the ceremony he takes the pledge, not only as the ego but as the Monad, that he will make it his life-work to pour himself out in blessing, even as the Logos is continually streaming forth his love. He must therefore each day and hour keep this pledge in mind and subserve all things to it. His karma from the past gives him various personal characteristics and impulses; he must take heed lest these drive him to think of himself and his own well-being, rather than of the greater self and the welfare of the world.

Before he can undertake the larger work awaiting him, the youthful Initiate has often to prepare himself by an ordinary training in College and University. In that case he will be plunged into circumstances of vigorous activity and many self-centred interests. Life surrounds him with many temptations, and with occasions tending to make him forget his pledge to the Brotherhood. Through them all he must have a clearly defined attitude, that he has thrown in his lot with the aims of the Brotherhood. In that life in the world on every occasion, whether of study, recreation or amusement, he must definitely hold the thought: “Is this that I am going to do likely to make me better equipped for the Master’s work, or a better channel to spread love and happiness?”

He must always remember that the Brotherhood has the first claim on his services, and must never put himself in any position which makes it impossible for him to fulfil his duty to it. It is not intended that he should live the life of a hermit; but while he lives that life in society which will give him the growth he requires, he must all the time watch to see whether it is making him more of a channel for the Logos. Henceforth for him any experience, however pleasant and harmless, which cannot make him a fuller channel of the Logos, or give an opportunity for service, is valueless to him, and is so much waste of time. He should try to take advantage of every opportunity to help that he sees, and to learn such things as will make him useful.

The Initiate Brother to All

When the pupil takes the great step of Initiation and becomes a member of the Brotherhood, he also becomes, in a far greater and more special sense than before, the brother of every one of his fellowmen. This does not mean that he must direct their lives, and try to guide them with criticism. It is not his business in life to criticise but to encourage; but if he sees reason to make any suggestion, he must do it with the very greatest care and courtesy. The world does not see the higher members of the Brotherhood; therefore it is apt to judge that organization by the junior members who come within its purview. That is what is meant by the remark in the Charge at Initiation, that the neophyte holds the honour of the Brotherhood in his hands.

It is his duty to stream forth love and benediction, so that every place in which he happens to be is happier because of his presence. He must therefore steadily turn outwards. Henceforth it does not matter to him what judgment the world gives on his actions, but only what judgment the Brotherhood gives. Whether he is popular or unpopular with the world matters not at all, if through all his conduct he has been loyal to the ideals placed before him. Some senior members of the Brotherhood may desire to use him at any moment, wherever he happens to be, and sometimes without his knowing it in the brain-consciousness, but he cannot be used if, at the moment when he is needed, he is found brooding over his own affairs and turned inwards, not outwards to the world. The supreme need for him is the building of character, so that, when his Master looks at him he will find him thinking of the world’s welfare, and not whether that world is giving him happiness or misery.




Chapter 8

The Ego



The Birth of the Ego

In order that the further steps on the Path may be clearly understood, it is necessary at this point to consider the ego, and the way in which he has awakened and put forth his powers to bring the personality into harmony with himself, and to reach up to the buddhic plane and realize his unity with all that lives.

In Man Visible and Invisible and The Christian Creed I published a diagram which I reproduce here, illustrating the Three Outpourings of the Divine Life in our evolutionary scheme. At the top of the diagram appear three circles symbolizing the Three Aspects of the Logos, the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity; and from each of them a line runs down, crossing at right angles the horizontal lines which signify the seven planes of nature. That from the lowest circle (the Third Aspect) is drawn straight down the middle of the diagram, growing heavier and darker as it descends, showing how the Holy spirit vivifies the matter of the various planes, first building their respective atoms, and then aggregating those atoms into elements.

Diagram 2: The Three Outpourings of Divine Life

Diagram 2


Into that matter so vivified the Second Outpouring comes down from the circle typifying God the Son, and the Divine Life of which that Outpouring consists draws that matter together into forms which it can inhabit, and thus incarnates and makes bodies or vehicles for itself. At its lowest level of materiality that Life ensouls the mineral kingdom, and as it evolves it gradually becomes definite enough to ensoul the vegetable kingdom, and still later the animal. When it has risen to the highest level of the animal kingdom a very remarkable change takes place, and an entirely new factor is introduced—that of the Third Outpouring, which comes from the highest circle, the First Aspect of the Logos, commonly called God the Father.

That force which has hitherto been the ensouler now becomes in its turn the ensouled, and the new force from the First Person seizes upon what has heretofore been the soul of the animal, and actually makes it into a body for itself, though a body of matter so exceedingly fine as to be utterly inappreciable to our physical senses. Thus is born the ego in his causal body, and he at once draws into himself the result of all the experience that has been gained by that animal soul in all the aeons of its previous development, so that nothing of the qualities which have been acquired in the course of its evolution is lost.

The Monad and the Ego

What then is this wonderful force that rushes from the Highest Aspect of the Solar Logos which is known to us? It is in very truth the actual Life of God himself. So, you may say, are the First and Second Outpourings. That is quite true, but they have come down slowly and gradually through all the sub-planes, drawing round themselves the matter of each of these, and enmeshing themselves in it so thoroughly that it is scarcely possible to discern them for what they are, to recognize them as Divine Life at all. But this Third Outpouring flashes straight down from its source without involving itself in any way in the intermediate matter. It is the pure white light, uncontaminated by anything through which it has passed.

Although for clearness’ sake our diagram shows this Third Stream of the Divine Life as coming forth directly from the Logos, it has in fact issued forth from him long ago, and is hovering at an intermediate point in the second of our planes. When hovering at that level it is called the Monad, and perhaps the least misleading manner in which we can image it to ourselves is to think of it as a part of God—a part, but of That which cannot be divided—a paradox, truly, to our mortal intellect; yet enshrining an eternal truth which is far beyond our comprehension.

The general method of this descent of Spirit into matter seems to be always the same, though the diverse conditions of the different planes naturally produce many variations in detail. The Logos himself puts down the Monad—a tiny fragment of himself—into a level far below his own; of course such a descent must mean a most serious limitation, though it is all too far above the utmost reach of our consciousness to be described or understood. In exactly the same way the Monad puts down a tiny fragment of himself which becomes the ego; and in that case also the limitation is enormously increased. The very same thing happens once more when the ego repeats the operation and projects a minute portion of himself into the mental, the astral and the physical bodies of the man—a fragment which we call the personality.

This last tiny fragment is the point of consciousness which those of us who are clairvoyant can see moving about within the man. According to one system of symbology this is seen as “the golden man the size of a thumb,” who dwells in the heart; but many of us see it rather in the form of a star. I think I have always seen it myself as a brilliant star of light. A man may keep this star of consciousness where he will—that is to say, in any one of the seven principal centres of the body. Which of these is most natural to a man depends largely upon his type or Ray, and I think also upon his race and sub-race. We of the fifth sub-race of the fifth root race nearly always keep that consciousness in the brain, in the centre dependent upon the pituitary body. There are, however, men of other races to whom it comes more natural to keep it habitually in the heart, the throat or the solar plexus.

This star of consciousness is the representative of the ego down here in these lower planes, and as it manifests through those vehicles we call it the personality; and that is the man as he is known to his friends down here.

Communication with the Personality

But though that personality is absolutely part of the ego—though the only life and power in it are those of the ego—it nevertheless often forgets those facts, and comes to regard itself as an entirely separate entity, and works down here for its own ends. It has always a line of communication with the ego (often called in our books the antahkarana), but it generally makes no effort to use it. In the case of ordinary people who have never studied these matters, the personality is to all intents and purposes the man, and the ego manifests himself only very rarely and partially.

Man’s evolution in its earlier stages consists in the opening up of this line of communication, so that the ego may be increasingly able to assert himself through it, and finally entirely to dominate the personality, so that it may have no separate thought or will, but may be merely (as it should be) an expression of the ego on these lower planes. It must, of course, be understood that the ego, belonging as he does to an altogether higher plane, can never fully express himself down here; the most for which we can hope is that the personality will contain nothing which is not intended by the ego—that it will express as much of him as can be expressed in this lower world.

The absolutely untrained man has practically no communication with the ego; the Initiate has full communication; consequently we find (as we should expect) that there are men among us at all stages between these two extremes. It must be remembered that the ego himself is only in process of development, and that we have therefore to deal with egos in very different stages of advancement. In any case an ego is in a great many ways something enormously bigger than a personality can ever be. Though, as has been said, he is but a fragment of the Monad, he is yet complete as an ego in his causal body, even when his powers are undeveloped; whereas there is but a touch of his life in the personality.

It is also true that life at his level is an infinitely larger and more vivid thing than what we know as life down here. Just as it is evolution for the personality to learn to express the ego more fully, so is it evolution for the ego to learn to express the Monad more fully. An undeveloped personality forgets all about this connection with the ego and feels himself quite independent. It can hardly be possible for an ego at his much higher level to be unaware of his link with the Monad; certainly some egos are far more awake to the necessities of their evolution than others—which is only another way of saying that there are older and younger egos, and that the older are striving more earnestly than the younger to unfold their latent possibilities.

In His Own World

We are apt to think that the only development possible for an ego is through the personality; but that is not so—or rather it is so only in connection with one small set of qualities. As I have explained at length in Man Visible and Invisible, the causal body of a savage is almost colourless. As in the process of his evolution he develops good qualities which can find corresponding vibrations in the matter of the causal body, the colours expressive of these qualities begin to show themselves; and presently the causal body, instead of being empty, is full of active pulsating life. So much more of the ego can now manifest through it that it has to increase enormously in size; it extends further and further from its physical centre until the man is able to enfold hundreds and even thousands of persons within himself, and so to exercise a vast influence for good.

But all this, wonderful though it be, is only one side of his development. He has quite other lines of progress of which we down here know nothing; he is living a life of his own among his peers, among the great Arupadevas, among all kinds of splendid Angels, in a world far beyond our ken. The young ego probably is but little awake as yet to all that glorious life, just as a baby in arms knows little of the interests of the world surrounding him; but as his consciousness gradually unfolds, he awakens to all this magnificence, he becomes fascinated by its vividness and beauty.

At the same time he himself becomes a glorious object, and gives us for the first time some idea of what God means man to be. Among such beings thoughts no longer take form and float about as they do at lower levels, but pass like lightning-flashes from one to another. Here we have no newly acquired vehicles, gradually coming under control and learning by degrees more or less feebly to express the soul within; but we are face to face with one body older than the hills, an actual expression of the Divine Glory which ever rests behind it, and shines through it more and more in the gradual unfolding of its powers.

Here we deal no longer with outward forms, but we see the things in themselves, the reality which lies behind the imperfect expression. Here cause and effect are one, clearly visible in their unity, like two sides of the same coin. Here we have left the concrete for the abstract; we have no longer the multiplicity of forms, but the idea which lies behind all those forms. Here the essence of everything is available; we no longer study details; we no longer talk round a subject or endeavour to explain; we take up the essence or the idea of the subject and move it as a whole, as one moves a piece when playing chess. What down here would be a system of philosophy, needing many volumes to explain it, is there a single definite object—a thought which can be thrown down as one throws a card upon the table. An opera or an oratorio, which here would occupy a full orchestra for many hours in the rendering, is there a single mighty chord; the methods of a whole school of painting are condensed into one magnificent idea; and ideas such as these are the intellectual counters which are used by egos in their converse one with another.

It is not easy to explain in physical words the differences which exist between egos, since all of them are in many ways much greater than anything to which we are accustomed down here. Analogies are notoriously misleading if pressed too far or taken too literally; but I may perhaps convey some faint reflection of the impression produced upon me by intercourse with them, if I say that an advanced ego reminds me of a dignified, stately and most courteous ambassador, full of wisdom and kindliness, while the less developed man has more of the type of the bluff, hearty country squire. An ego who is already on the Path, and is nearing Adeptship, has much in common with the great Angels, and radiates spiritual influences of prodigious power.

His Interest in the Personality

Can we wonder, then, that the ego throws himself energetically into the whirl of intense activity of his own plane, and that it seems to him immensely more interesting and important than the faint far-distant struggles of a cramped and half-formed personality, veiled in the dense obscurity of a lower world?

In the physical life of the ordinary man of the world there is little of interest to the ego, and it is only now and then that something of real importance occurs, that may for a moment attract his attention, so that from it he draws whatever is worth taking. The ordinary man lives in patches; more than half the time he is not awake to the real and higher life at all. Some of us are apt to complain that our egos take very little notice of us; let us ask ourselves how much notice we have taken of them. How often for example, in any given day, have we even thought of the ego? If we wish to attract his attention we must make the personality useful to him. As soon as we begin to devote the greater part of our thought to higher things (and that is equivalent to saying as soon as we really begin to live), the ego will be likely to take somewhat more notice of us.

The ego knows that certain necessary parts of his evolution can be achieved only through that personality, and in its mental, astral and physical bodies; he knows, therefore, that he must some time attend to it, must take it in hand and bring it under his control. But we can well understand that the task may often seem uninviting, that a given personality may appear anything but attractive or hopeful. If we look at many of the personalities around us—their physical bodies poisoned with meat, alcohol and tobacco, their astral bodies reeking with greed and sensuality, and their mental bodies having no interests beyond business, or perhaps horse-racing and prize-fighting—it is not difficult to see why an ego, surveying them from his lofty height, might decide to postpone his serious effort to another incarnation, in the hope that the next set of vehicles might be more amenable to influence than those upon which his horrified gaze then rested. We can imagine that he might say to himself: “I can do nothing with that; I will take my chance of getting something better next time; it can hardly be worse, and meantime I have much more important business to do up here.”

A similar thing not infrequently happens in the early stages of a new incarnation. From the birth of the child the ego is hovering over it, and in some cases he begins to try to influence its development while it is still very young. As a general rule he pays little attention to it until about the age of seven, by which time the work of the karmic elemental should be practically over. Children differ so widely that it is not surprising to find that the relation between the egos and the personalities involved differs widely also. Some child-personalities are quick and responsive, some are a dull or wayward; when the latter characteristics are prominent the ego often withdraws his active interest for the time, hoping that as the childish body grows, it may become cleverer or more responsive.

Such a decision may seem to us unwise, because if the ego neglects his present personality it is unlikely that the next will be an improve­ment upon it; and if he allows the child-body to develop without his influence, the undesirable qualities which have been manifested may quite possibly grow stronger instead of dying out. But we are hardly in a position to judge, since our knowledge of the problem is so imperfect, and we can see nothing of the higher business to which he is devoting himself.

From this it will be seen how impossible it is to judge with any precision the position in evolution of anyone whom we see only on the physical plane. In one case karmic causes may have produced a very fair personality, having an ego of only moderate advancement behind it; while in another case those causes may have given rise to an inferior or defective personality, belonging to a comparatively advanced ego. A good illustration of this appears among the stories of the life of the Lord Buddha. A man came to him one day, as people in trouble were wont to do, and told him that he had great difficulty with his meditation, which he could scarcely succeed in doing at all. Then the Buddha told him that there was a very simple reason for it—that in a previous life he had foolishly been in the habit of annoying certain holy men and disturbing their meditations. Yet that man may have been more advanced as an ego than some of his companions whose meditations were well done.

When the ego does decide to turn the full force of his energy upon the personality, the change which he can produce is marvellous. No one who has not personally investigated the matter can imagine how wonderful, how rapid, how radical, such a change may be when conditions are favourable—that is, when the ego is reasonably strong, and the personality not incurably vicious—more especially when a determined effort is made by the personality on its side to become a perfect expression of the ego, and make itself attractive to him.

The Attitude of the Personality

The difficulty of this subject is greatly enhanced by the fact that it is necessary for us to regard it simultaneously from two points of view. Most of us down here are very emphatically personalities, and think and act almost exclusively as such; yet we know all the time that in reality we are egos, and those of us who by many years of meditation have rendered ourselves more sensitive to finer influences are often conscious of the intervention of this Higher Self. The more we can make a habit of identifying ourselves with the ego, the more clearly and sanely shall we view the problems of life; but in so far as we feel ourselves to be still personalities looking up to our Higher Selves, it is obviously our duty and our interest to open ourselves to them, to reach up towards them, and persistently to set up within ourselves such vibrations as will be of use to them. At least let us be sure that we do not stand in the way of the ego, that we always do our best for him according to our lights.

Since selfishness is the intensification of the personality, our first step should be to get rid of that. Then we must keep our minds filled with high thoughts; for if they are continually occupied with lower matters (even though those lower matters may be quite estimable in their way), the ego cannot readily use them as channels of expression. When he makes a tentative effort, when he puts down an exploratory finger, let us receive him with enthusiasm and hasten to obey his behests, that he may take possession of our minds more and more, and so come into his inheritance as far as these lower planes are concerned. Thus shall we bring ourselves ever nearer to the goal that we wish to reach; thus shall we set our feet upon the Path which leads directly to that first Initiation in which the lower and the Higher become one, or rather the greater has absorbed the lesser, so that there should now be nothing in the personality which is not a representation of the ego; the lower is now merely an expression of the higher.

The personality may have had a great many unpleasant qualities of his own, such as jealousy, anger and depression, but they have all been cast off, and now he merely reproduces that which comes from above. The ego having brought the lower self into harmony with himself is now reaching upwards into the buddhic plane, the plane of unity. It is only in this way that the man can begin to cast off the delusion of self which stands in the way of his further progress, and that is why the buddhic experience is necessary at the first Initiation, if it has not been had before. In many cases it has come earlier, because the higher emotions, showing themselves in the astral body, have reflected themselves in the buddhic vehicle and aroused it, and consequently there is some awakening before Initiation.

Realization of Unity

All that lives is really one, and it is the duty of those who enter the Brotherhood to know that as a fact. We are taught that the Self is one, and we try to understand what that means; but it is quite a different thing when we see it for ourselves, as the candidate does when he enters the buddhic plane. It is as if in physical life we were each living at the bottom of a well, from which we may look up at the sunlight in the world above; and just as the light shines down into the depth of many wells, and yet ever remains the one light, so does the Light of the One illumine the darkness of our hearts. The Initiate has climbed out of the well of the personality, and sees that the light which he thought to be himself is in very truth the Infinite Light of all.

While living in the causal body, the ego already acknowledged the Divine Consciousness in all; when he looked upon another ego his consciousness leapt up as it were to recognize the Divine in him. But on the buddhic plane it no longer leaps to greet him from without, for it is already enshrined within his heart. He is that consciousness and it is his. There is no longer the “you” and the “I,” for both are one—facets of something that transcends and yet includes them both.

Yet in all this strange advance there is no loss of the sense of individuality, even though there is an utter loss of the sense of separateness. That seems a paradox, while yet it is obviously true. The man remembers all that lies behind him. He is himself, the same man who did this action or that in the far-off past. He is in no way changed, except that now he is much more than he was then, and feels that he includes within himself many other manifestations as well. If here and now a hundred of us could simultaneously raise our consciousness into the intuitional world, we should all be one consciousness, but to each man that would seem to be his own, absolutely unchanged, except that now it included all the others as well.

To each it would seem that it was he who had absorbed or included all those others, so we are here manifestly in the presence of a kind of illusion, and a little further realization makes it clear to us that we are all facets of a greater consciousness, and that what we have hitherto thought to be our qualities, our intellect, our energies have all the time been his qualities, his intellect, his energy. We have arrived at the realization in actual fact of the time-honoured formula: “Thou art That.” It is one thing to talk about this down here and to grasp it, or to think that we grasp it, intellectually; but it is quite another to enter into that marvellous world and know it with a certainty that can never again be shaken.

When this buddhic consciousness fully impresses the physical brain, it gives a new value to all the actions and relations of life. We no longer look upon a person or object, no matter with what degree of kindliness or sympathy; we simply are that person or object, and we know him or it as we know the thought of our own brain or the movement of our own hand. We appreciate his motives as our own motives, even though we may perfectly understand that another part of ourselves, possessing more knowledge or a different view-point, might act quite differently.

Yet it must not be supposed that when a man enters upon the lowest sub-division of the intuitional world he at once becomes fully conscious of his unity with all that lives. That perfection of sense comes only as the result of much toil and trouble, when he has reached the highest sub-division of this realm of unity. To enter that plane at all is to experience an enormous extension of consciousness, to realize himself as one with many others; but before him there opens a time of effort, of self-development, analogous at that level to what we do down here when by meditation we try to open our consciousness to the plane next above us. Step by step, sub-plane by sub-plane, the aspirant must win his way; for even at that level exertion is still necessary if progress is to be made.

Having passed the first Initiation and consciously entered the buddhic plane, this work of developing himself on sub-plane after sub-plane now lies before the candidate, in order that he may get rid of the three great fetters, as they are technically called, which embarrass his further progress. He is now definitely on the Path of Holiness, and is described in the Buddhist system as the Sotapatti or Sovan, “he who has entered the stream”; while among the Hindus he is called the Parivrajaka, which means “the wanderer,” one who no longer feels that any place in the three lower worlds is his abiding-place of refuge.

[1] Light on the Path, part I, Rule 21.

[2] I Peter, iv, 8.

[3] Luke, vii, 47