The Masters and the Path of Occultism by G. de Purucker
VI -- What Is Occultism?
VII -- The Mystery-Schools and Initiation
VIII -- The Sacred Seasons
Occultism is the most serious and important branch of human knowledge. It is the science of the things that are causal, and therefore of the things which are in most instances invisible -- Nature's fundamental structure, operations, and 'laws'; and anyone who studies these realities and who has reached some understanding of them from individual experience and insight and who delivers what he knows to his fellow-men, is a true and genuine Occultist. No true Occultist exists except he who has been initiated. Mystics exist, many of them, without having passed through the initiatory rites; and there have been many grand mystics. Mysticisms of many kinds exist, according to the temperament of the writer or the thinker or the feeler. But there is but one Occultism -- the science of things unseen -- and seen!
All through the ages there have been searchers and seekers after this secret Wisdom. The instinct of the human heart has told all thinking and intuitive men in all ages that there is an explanation of the riddles of life, and that this explanation may be found. Always the problem has been the How, the Where. Blind sons of men, the great Sages and Seers have always told you the How and the Where! Every one of them has given to you the hint, has shown to you the beginning of the path. Their message has always been, although variously voiced and differently phrased: "Look within, O son of man, for there begins the mystic pathway of Wisdom for each one of you, a pathway which leads to the heart of the Universe; for each one of you in his inmost, in the core of the core of his being, is a divinity, a deathless god. And the very heart of the heart of the heart of the core of the core of every living entity is a spark of the eternal Central Fire; so that if you become at one with this spark, you are at one with the Central Fire, its fountain-head; and then all Wisdom is yours, and all Knowledge is yours, and all Love is yours, and all Power is yours."
This is so simple that a child may understand the rule; and every Theosophical movement in every age has been founded with the main intent of bringing to men the realization of the truths of life -- of the nature, structure, and operations of the Universe of which all men are inseparable, individual parts. Every Theosophical movement throughout the ages has been founded in order to bring back to man the realization of that which is essentially man's, to awaken in his heart his spiritual instincts, to light the divine fire anew in his soul, so that, inflamed with its glory, he may press onwards, find this pathway, and in following it to its end -- which is indeed no end, for it is endless -- may reach the realization by individual experience of his complete oneness with the Universe of which he is a child. That Universe is you. Every part of it is yours. It is your eternal Home and your everlasting Dwelling-place. There you are native; and not only are you, each one of you, the heart of the Universe, but that Universe itself verily is you yourself in your inmost.
There, then, is the Pathway. Beginning to tread it, you begin the study of genuine Occultism; and it is dependent upon your own selves, your own souls, individually speaking, how far you advance along this Pathway, which 'begins' in you and which reaches for ever and for ever and for ever in constantly enlarging reaches throughout the beginningless and endless spaces of Space. "Man, know thyself!"
Your Self, your spiritual Self, is the Universe itself. The Heart of Being is your heart of being. You are in the Universe, you live in the Universe, always will you be in it, you cannot ever leave it, you have never been out of it, because you are its child, and here now you are. Is not this thought a very simple and easily understood conception? In its correct understanding we may begin to catch a glimpse of the glory that lies back of it, the inspiration to a nobler and a grander life that it contains.
Any man who pursues this study, following this inner pathway, is a genuine Occultist; and precisely in accordance with the advance that he has made along this inner, wondrous Path of mystery and peace and wisdom and beauty, is his inner spiritual standing -- whether he be a mere beginner on the Path or a Master of life.
PSEUDO- OR IMAGINARY OCCULTISTS
On the other hand, no matter how much one may be inclined to the study of things which are hid, if he does not follow this spiritual pathway he is not a genuine Occultist. He studies a pseudo-occultism, indeed, in the sense of studying mysterious and weird things; but his occultism is imaginary. He is studying more particularly the curiously complex and perplexing psychological operations of his own mind. I do not deny and in fact I affirm that even this pseudo-occultism is a prticular, albeit unimportant, branch of the genuine Occultism, because the student in Occultism must first of all study himself; but unless he has the larger teachings and is under the instruction of a genuine progressed Occultist, he is following a dangerous because misleading pathway. He is attempting to run before he can crawl.
Such men as these are pseudo-occultists, 'imaginary occultists.' Some of them are sincere even if ignorant; but some of them also are frauds, conscious or unconscious -- frauds, because claiming pretensions to a wisdom which they possess not. Are there not conscious and even unconscious frauds in other walks of life also? But because there are frauds, shall we turn from the realities? Because there are bad men in the world, men whose hearts are ignoble, whose instincts are base, and whose claims are mere pretensions, shall we avoid the companionship of those whose hearts are noble, whose instincts are lofty, and whose word is truth itself? Of course not! Even these unfortunate ministers of deception are unconscious and perhaps unwilling witnesses of the existence of the pure gold of the genuine occultism to which, despite themselves, they are drawn and which they attempt to copy.
Every true coin, it is said, is or can be counterfeited: if a thing had no genuine, no real value, there would be no possibility of its being counterfeited, because no one would have a use for it. Therefore, wherever a counterfeit is seen, it is paradoxically enough a testimony to actual values existing somewhere which are the realities. Hence, wherever you see a spurious coin you may be assured that a hunting for the pure gold will not be unrewarded.
Some of our greatest scientific researchers today have the right to the name of Occultist. They are penetrating behind the outermost veil of the outward seeming, moving forwards towards another invisible veil which is behind the veil of the outward seeming. They have as yet advanced but a short way, it is true; and they really don't know whither they are going. Nevertheless they are students of the things which are invisible in Nature's structure and in her operations and energies and laws; and thus truly may be classed as genuine -- but unconscious -- Occultists. We Theosophists don't call them by that name because we prefer to restrict this term to men who have been trained by genuine occult Teachers, who have been taught how to unlock the inner percipient self; so that it may, if one like, leave the body and enter into the very womb of natural being. This indeed can be done; it is in fact done every day; and those men who can do this are the genuine Occultists, those who have the best and largest right to this noble title.
All the great Seers and Sages have thus been trained and are thus genuine Occultists. But they never talk in public about it. They don't advertise themselves even, though there are rare exceptions to this rule of secrecy. There are occasions when the association of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion send out one or more of their pupils with instructions to proclaim spiritual truth once more to the hearts and minds of men, and to do so with the voice of authority, as Jesus did, as the Buddha did, as Pythagoras did, as Empedocles did, as Lao Tse did, as Krishna did, as Apollonius of Tyana did, and as did many others; and their teaching has always been fundamentally one teaching, however it may have varied in form because given in different ages to different races of men. It matters not at all in what language they spoke, nor in what age and under what conditions and in what circumstances they delivered what they had to say: the essentials were always the same -- the same identic formulation of natural facts, and the same identic system of natural verities.
Every new bringer of truth has been persecuted, and especially persecuted (strange and melancholy paradox!) by those who were nearest to him, nearest in belief to his teachings. This also is a paradox full of pathos, that men from a sense of caution and prudence -- noble virtues in themselves -- and from a love of holy truth itself, hesitate, draw back, are suspicious, when they hear a thing which seems to them new, albeit beautiful and full of spiritual inspiration. Then comes Time, the great solver of all problems, the healer of all wounds, and pours his soothing balm over men's hearts and minds, clears away the mists, and finally brings understanding; and after the death of the envoy, mayhap, they say: "Verily, verily, a Son of the Sun has come to us and we recognised him not." But even though such be the fate of most of the envoys of the Great Ones, in the end it matters not at all. The envoys come, knowing what they will meet with; but they come to give, and to give up their life if need be, to give of themselves, all that they have and all that they are, in the giving; for they come not for self but for others.
Verily there are, then, genuine Occultists, and those whom we may perhaps call imaginary occultists. Let us be charitable in our judgment regarding these latter. Some of them are not at all bad men. Some of the teachings that they give are good. But whence take they them? Where do they find them? They have found them in the Theosophical philosophy! That is the fountain-head whence they draw all the good that they gave: they find it all in the genuine teachings of Theosophy as brought to the Western world by the Envoy of the great Teachers, H. P. Blavatsky. She was a genuine Occultist indeed, the Envoy of the Great Ones, as others have been before her. She brought the teachings of the age-old Wisdom-Religion anew to mankind; and it is from this fountain of Wisdom that men of later date have drawn for their own purposes.
If now they had given out these teachings and had said: "These truths have I drawn from H. P. Blavatsky; to her is due the credit, and also to them -- the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion -- who sent her forth," then we would not utter a word of blame. Indeed, we should even applaud. But when people take credit unto themselves, not giving credit where credit is rightly due, then such action is a spiritual theft, and such people are rightly qualified as 'imaginary' occultists. The woods are full of them today. Our cities today contain a small army of them, and our newspapers contain innumerable advertisements of their trade. I have not the slightest desire to throw mud at anyone nor to utter a word of unmerited reproof. But my instinct of justice and my sense of right revolt sometimes when I ponder over these matters, and I feel that it is my duty to tell the truth.
"Come unto me," said the Syrian Initiate-Teacher, "Come unto me, and I will show you the pathway to wisdom, to peace, to love, and to power." Such was also the declaration of the Oracle of the Delphic Apollo, who, in other words, said: "Man, know thyself: this is the pathway to wisdom, to peace, to love, to power."
And H. P. Blavatsky said, in language which no thoughtful mind could misinterpret: "Come unto me, my Brothers. I have been taught. Only as I have been taught am I authorized to give; but what I have been taught I can give, and it is my duty to give it."
She gave, and gave lavishly. What she gave was not her own; it is not my own; it is not your own. It is the common spiritual and intellectual heritage of mankind; it belongs to us all as human beings, to every son of man; and anyone who studies this common heritage of mankind and who follows the pathway that it opens, is a genuine Occultist; and if he follow this pathway leading him to a greater chamber of wisdom and then later still to chambers more lovely by far, he is a greater Occultist. The pathway, remember, is endless, for it leads over and through the spacious fields of the spaces of invisible space.
Occultism, let us understand clearly, is the science and the study of the things which are invisible, secret, sacred -- the study of the inner structure, operations, powers, and so-called laws, of the Universe; and Theosophy as presented today is its theoretic presentation. This is a definition which is exact and which is therefore true; and, of course, since man is an inseparable part of the Universe, therefore the secret powers, energies, and operations of the inner and invisible human being form a part of the study of the genuine Occultist also.
For instance, there is a strange and mysterious energy in man, which few men consciously know anything about, and in connexion with this there is a secret and wonderful key which enables him to unloose, to unlock so to say, the chains which bind him into the gross psychoastral-physical encasement. There is this key by which to unlock the lock which shuts this inner man in; and when the inner man is thus loosed or unlocked, he can go forth into the inner realms of being, into the secret and invisible places of space. In Tibet this power is called the Hpho-wa. It is called by other names in other places.
All races of people have known of this wondrous fact. They have thought much about it, wondered greatly about it, and instinct has told them it is a fact. When this inner man is thus unloosed, he can send himself or project himself or, if you like the phrasing better, he himself can go, whither he will; not only anywhere on the surface of the earth or to the center of the earth or to the higher regions of our atmosphere, but also to the moon, to the planets, to the sun. It depends upon what part of the inner constitution of himself he unlocks. The spiritual part is at home in the solar spaces. Thither at will it goes like a flash of thought. The more material part of the constitution of man is earthly and clings to the earth, but nevertheless is more ethereal than is the physical body; and he can send this more ethereal but yet material part of his being to any portion of our own rocky sphere that he may please to despatch it to; and there he can function in all his powers and faculties self-consciously and with full volition and do what he pleases. His ability in each case depends solely upon his grade of advancing in the Sacred Science, which also means his power to 'live the life.'
Would you like to test this yourself? Would you like to know by personal experience of these things? You can, if you will obey the law and follow the rules. Ah, yes, the same old stumbling-blocks -- laws and rules! But such is Nature's way. There's the rub: obeying rules and following studies. And yet is it not every where the same in life? You can't even run an automobile without learning how to do it. How can you work a problem without learning the rules for its solution? How can you practise chemistry without having studied the science?
Here then is the secret: You must give yourself, if you desire to find yourself. "Give up thy life if thou wouldst live." Give up the small life, the petty life, the mean life, the restricted life, the little personal life which shuts you in -- give it up and follow the light of the Star within you. Expand from personality into impersonality and take your place as a master of life! Cultivate the powers which give you freedom, which release you from the shackles and chains of the lower selfhood. Be free spiritually, and intellectually free; then you can be trusted with all the 'occult powers' within you and within the Universe surrounding you, of which you are a child, because then you will be a Master of Life, and all the powers that then you will have you will wield only for great and noble and unselfish and impersonal purposes.
Let us not, however, confuse this wide range of experience possible to human beings, with merely one or two or three more or less disputed psychic faculties such as thought-transference, or ordinary clairaudience or clairvoyance -- and here I do not refer to genuine spiritual clairvoyance, using the word in the largest sense as meaning clear-seeing, insight behind the veils, inner visioning.
Furthermore, were I to say that everybody should cultivate 'occult powers' merely because they are 'occult,' I should be failing grossly in my duty. Therefore I say, No. You should cultivate your spiritual powers, yes; your intellectual powers, yes; your intellectual faculties, yes, for these are the genuinely occult powers, of which the others are the lower and weak reflexions; but when it comes to cultivating these lower, the astral and psychic powers, then I say, No. The average man is totally unfit to have complete command of other powers than those which he already has. Indeed, the average man cannot even control himself, the ordinary psychoastral-physical powers that he commonly uses today; and then, forsooth, people talk about 'cultivating occult powers'! It simply shows that they don't know what they refer to.
It is one of our Theosophical duties to show men the way to wisdom, to peace, to happiness, to strength, and to spiritual power -- the real powers, the powers which are safe and clean and sweet, which make a man lovable, which make him compassionate, which guarantee that power put into his hands will be wielded never for self but always in order to benefit others. Before the lower 'occult powers' of any kind are cultivated, man must learn the first lesson of the Higher Occultism, the mystic knowledge, which is to control himself; and all powers that later he gains must be laid on the altar of impersonal service -- on the altar of service to mankind.
There are great men, noble-minded men, men who can be trusted; and they are entitled to have powers, and they have them. They are chelas, as we Theosophists say. It may be unknown to themselves sometimes in the beginning, but nevertheless they are pupils, disciples, of the great Teachers -- of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion.
O my Brothers, unlock the divine in your own being! It is very easy to begin this effort. Aspire, forgive, love impersonally, control yourself, exercise your spiritual faculties, cultivate your intellectual powers, do good to others. But always learn to love, to love more, to love still more greatly, to love more grandly still; and let your compassion reach even to the stars in thought and in feeling. Then you are indeed on the pathway to the gods. You are becoming a genuine Occultist, and some day great powers will be yours and you will see the Vision Sublime -- that vision which will enable you even while yet in the physical body to look within and beyond, and to see Truth face to face.
The Mysteries were originally the secret schools founded by the great Seers and Sages of the human race. The national Sages and Seers, one or more in each country, founded each his own school in which he taught not merely esoteric law, and discipline, and many of the arts and sciences, but also taught men how to live, and how to receive the Vision Sublime. That was the origin of the Mysteries; and the teachings of Theosophy today are the doctrines expressed in modern formulation of the tenets then taught and lived. The fundamental teachings of all these Mystery-Schools all over the world were the same: that great doctrine which we call the Wisdom-Religion of Antiquity today called Theosophy.
These Mysteries, even in their original form, which form was indeed kept to the very end of their existence, were taught in two ways: by dramatic expression or symbolism in the form of ritual and ceremony of certain natural secrets; and by mouth-to-ear communication of holy truths. Both the Small and the Great Mysteries of Antiquity, as they were about the time of the Fall of the Roman Empire, had preserved even to that day more or less all of the inferior part of the teachings given in dramatic form; and somewhat of the same idea of ritualism and ceremonial observances still prevails in Occidental countries in certain secret and fraternal organizations. But at the time of the Fall of the Roman Empire, that is to say at the time when Christianity began to extend widely, the deeper teachings, the mouth-to-ear communication of high truths, were withdrawn.
As to the form that the ten days' celebration of the Greater Mysteries took each year, I might make a brief picture of them in words without going too far; because I tell you frankly that these same Mysteries are celebrated today in their fullness in proper quarters, and with all the ancient possibilities of achievement in initiation; and among us Theosophists today there are those who know of this for a fact.
I will give you a picture: a picture in the form of dramatic symbology. The seed must die before the offspring, which is of itself, comes into being; and the raising of the new out of the old is symbolic of the birth of the inner god in the neophyte. You may read in some of the rather mystical treatises of the Christian literary cycle, of the Christ-sun, of the sun-Christ. This is an allusion not to the man Jesus but to the Christ-light in the core of the core of every human being. When the Christ in the heart of a man is enabled to express himself fully through the outer man, then the spiritual Sun-God is born. Then indeed, in the mystical wording of the early Christians, can the witnesses of this sublime rite chant: "All hail to the risen Christ" out of the gloom of matter and the bondage of the lower selfhood. These beautiful symbolical things are facts in initiation. They contain wondrous truths of life; they contain wondrous truths of Science -- in the modern understanding of that word as classified knowledge -- as well as truths of Religion and of Philosophy.
One of the greatest of the esoteric schools among the Greeks and later among the Romans was that of the Mithraists. They had a wonderful teaching which was also a Mystery-Teaching. Mithraism drove Christianity so hard at one time, and the scales were so evenly balanced, that a feather's weight in the Mithraic scale would have changed the course of history. Christianity prevailed only because it was easier of acceptance on belief by the unthinking multitude.
The nations surrounding the Mediterranean Sea at that time were, spiritually speaking, running on a down-grade: an era of spiritual and intellectual obscuration had come upon men; and the grand old teachings of the Mystery-Schools had been largely forgotten, and the races that then lived around the Mediterranean could hardly understand those teachings. The time finally came when they preferred to believe on faith rather than to think. That is why Christianity prevailed. Mithraism at one time was predominant in court, in the army, in the navy, among the people, indeed everywhere; but it required study, thinking, something more than easy belief; and, speaking in a strange paradox, it was its greatness which was its weakness: it was too great for a degenerate people to understand it.
Consider the Eleusinia, as another type of esoteric society, commonly called the Mysteries of Eleusis. Consider also the Mysteries of Samothrace. Concerning these the greatest men of Greece and Rome have told us that in them a man was taught how grandly to live and, when his time comes, how grandly to die, filled with the fervent hope that he was on his way to join the gods, not in body, but in essence, preceding a return here on earth among men.
But why, one may ask, are these ancient mystery-centers now but a memory? Why did they fall? Why did they die? How was it that they passed? For the same reasons that all human institutions finally fall and die. Those in charge proved faithless to the trust. Nothing on this earth could have overthrown these Schools had they remained true at heart, for the might of the great Masters would then have been behind them, and this might means the Spiritual Solar Fire. At Eleusis, for instance, things had come to such a pass that the initiations and the teachings became a mere rite or a mere ceremonial, a mere form, like the Christian ceremonies today of baptism and the Communion, and what not. The School at Athens, which was the same as the Eleusinian, was closed by an Imperial Rescript of the Emperor Justinian in the sixth century, and seven philosophers, sincere, earnest, and good men, and the only faithful ones of the time, fled their native land, Greece, fled to King Khosru of Persia, for protection against the laws and armies and tyranny and persecutions of imperial Rome. The Persian king received them hospitably; and as Rome at that time was at war with Persia, when Persia won in this war, one of the conditions of the peace was -- and it was laid down with the sword -- that these seven philosophers should be permitted to return to their native land, and to live in peace, and to teach in peace, and to die in peace; and so it was!
Ephesus was another center where the sacred teachings at one time were taught in fame. Babylon also, and Memphis in Egypt; and there were scores of other such places on the globe, all teaching the same fundamental system of truths. They taught Occultism, the secret teaching of the things that are hid, not apparent, secret; such as the structure of the Universe around us, the kind and nature and quality and circumstances of the spiritual beings who fill the Universe full, and man's origin and destiny -- spiritual, psychical, physical.
Now there are two ways for a man to achieve his destiny, two ways for a human soul to reach its own inner powers, the full expansion of its own god-like genius. The first is that followed by the majority, drifting along like flotsam on the ceaselessly moving ebb and flow of the Ocean of Time; and this is the path of natural evolution, of natural growth. But oh! how slow, how slow, how slow it is! Ages will pass before the expansion of inner faculties and powers reaches even a modicum of a larger greatness.
The other pathway is Initiation. This means a quicker growth, a more rapid evolution, a more speedy emergence from the chrysalis of humanhood into possessing the wings of the spirit -- into becoming the bird of eternity, to change the metaphor somewhat. There is a path, as H. P. Blavatsky, the main founder of the Theosophical Society so nobly wrote, rugged and uphill though it be for the average man, yet it leads to the very Heart of the Universe. The one traveling this path passes through the portals of growth quickly, relatively speaking; so that instead of spending ages in slowly evolving, he can grip himself, guide his own evolution, and thus much more quickly grow.
This is self-directed evolution. This is initiation. It exists today. But there are preparations necessary especially for initiation. None can follow a pathway -- is it not obvious? -- which he has not the strength to walk upon. Therefore he must gather strength unto himself. He must prepare himself. To use the language of the Christian New Testament, he must "gird up his loins and take his staff in his hand, have no thought for the morrow, and carry nothing with him." Light-footed must he speed along, without encumbering and hampering weights.
How do you make these preparations? Become self-forgetful; for then you throw off your burdens: you hate not, and you love all things, both small and great. Forget yourself, and you are then no longer enchained with the bonds of desire and acquisition tying you to things of evanescent and impermanent value. Your soul, your spirit, your mind, your heart, become infilled with impersonally great and noble thoughts, desires, and aspirations, which even one thought of merely personal profit and personal acquisition and gain will kill at least for the time being.
Initiation is a means of stimulating evolution; and there are many kinds of initiation. Some are very difficult indeed, such as only the greatest and strongest men can take, for the road is thorny and beset with pitfalls, simply because we human beings are weak; we are growing; we are not yet fully developed. But there are other initiations which are much easier, and which, while they do not, indeed, produce the great fruits in the increase of consciousness, in the gaining of comprehension, that the great initiations do, nevertheless are very helpful.
Man, know thyself, for thy Self is a divine being, rooted in the Universe of which the human being is an extension, so to speak. Therefore, by looking within, by following the roots of your own inner spiritual being ever more inwards and upwards, you come to understand naturally the mysteries of Mother Nature. It is a great and wonderful Adventure. Every man is capable of developing this inner consciousness in his heart, and therefore you can do it.
You can gain wonderfully just by cultivating a few simple rules of mental and practical conduct. Be kindly; refuse to hate. Learn to love; learn to forgive. Let your heart expand. Be yourself, and expand your sympathies; touch with the tendrils of your consciousness the hearts of other human beings. Oh! what a delight to feel, as it were, the inner spiritually electrical quiver that your own soul experiences when you have touched the heart of a fellow human being! Practising these rules of morals and of noble ethics, you begin a short cut to a comprehension of yourself, and ultimately you touch the mysteries of the Universe.
A great mystery is a human being. There is infinity in his heart of hearts. Man is a child of eternity, and eternity is in the very structure of the consciousness of his being. Man is an incarnate god, albeit a fallen god, misusing his powers; nevertheless by that fact can he rise again, and will rise again; and every normal human being must know, if he studies himself, that in his consciousness there is a beaming light, a star of glory, and that he can follow this light to ever greater expansions of splendor, for the entire Universe is his playground, is the stage of his Adventure, which is cosmic life; and as a Pilgrim passing from the eternity of the past into the eternity of the future, he plays many parts on the stage of life.
Out of eternity have we come, journeying through realm after realm of Nature's mystic and invisible constitution: through worlds both invisible and visible: gathering experience in each, perfecting our faculties in each. And when grown great in any such world, or on any such plane, or in any such sphere, having learned all the lessons that these worlds and planes and spheres can give us, we then pass to still nobler things.
When a human being has learned all that Earth can teach him, he is then godlike and returns to earth no more -- except those whose hearts are so filled with the holy flame of compassion that they remain in the schoolroom of Earth that they have long since advanced beyond and where they themselves can learn nothing more, in order to help their younger, less evolved brothers.
These exceptions we Theosophists call the Buddhas of Compassion, the Christs; and such a spirit is the Christ-spirit. Either path is noble -- to pass onward into Nirvana, or to return to Earth to help mankind. Both lead to heighths of spiritual sublimity. But one, the road of compassion, is divine. Some day all must make that choice. But the results of making that choice, of choosing the road of self-forgetfulness and pity and impersonal love for all others, while temporarily holding you in the realms of illusion, of matter, will ultimately lead you by a road straighter than any other, to the core of the core of the Universal Heart; for you shall have obeyed the impersonal commands of cosmic love, and that means allying yourselves consciously with divinity.
There is such a thing as so training the faculties and energies of the human understanding, of the human mind, of the human heart, that these become enormously receptive of natural truth. This procedure in ancient days was called initiation into the Mysteries. Specially trained men, great initiates of the ages, trained by others who had been previously trained and prepared, sent their spirit into and behind the veil of exterior matter deep into the abysses of the Cosmic Heart, and consciously brought back what they had there seen.
Initiation is naught but a becoming at one with your own inner god, your own spiritual being, and this means expanding your consciousness, your inner powers, so that they take cosmic extent. Being at one with the spiritual essence of things, you live and breathe its atmosphere and become a very god in flesh. Just as Jesus the Syrian Sage said: "I and my Father are one," referring here to his own inner god. When you become at one with your own inner god; in other words become at one with the divine essence working through you and giving you intelligence and love and power and vision; you have allied yourself with the divinity within, and thus become a god among men, literally.
The Great Ones of the past have done just this; and lesser men do it in degree; and these lesser sons of men are they whom we call geniuses.
In past ages, when the currents of material life ran less strong than today, when men's minds were turned more to the things which endure, it was thought to be man's loftiest objective to become more than man, more than an ordinary human. In order to do this, a man whose heart was anhungered for truth and whose soul was quickened with an intuition of great spiritual values, entered upon the Path of the ancient Mystery-Teaching. He gave up his life in order to find Life; he broke the bonds of personal existence -- limited, restricted, constricted -- so that his soul might expand into its native cosmic essence. That is what the Mysteries of the ancient days in their higher degrees did for the men who were capable and strong enough to undertake the tests and pass them successfully.
Now, this study and investigation of the secret laws of our great parent, Mother Nature, of which we are all children, is called Occultism. It also involves the highest form of spiritual self-dedication. An end of this study and investigation cannot be reached, because Mother Nature herself in her wondrous and illimitable fields of existence is endless. So this means that behind every veil which now confronts and blinds you, you can pass into a greater light, only to find another veil beyond, behind which, by greater growth still, you may go; and so on for ever. What a sublime hope! Endless growth, endless expansion, undying vision! It is a blessed thought that we gain it all by our own efforts alone!
Brotherhood is based on Nature's fundamental law, that no entity lives unto itself absolutely. It cannot. In trying to violate this fundamental law it perishes in time. But when we live unto others than our own self, we expand constantly. Our consciousness reaches for ever and for ever more outwards to greater spaces and finds its play in ever wider and grander fields. Living unto others is the way to grow great. This is not vapid sentimentality; it enunciates the first law of occult being.
All the Mystery-Schools of the past, all the methods of initiation, were founded with one object in view: to bring forth from within, the spiritual powers of those who were prepared, the faculties divine of the god within. And these initiations are not alone of the past. Let me tell you in all solemnity of holy truth, that they continue today for those who are found worthy and ready and prepared.
All initiations, so far as pictorial rite or figurative symbolism went, portrayed the mystic structure and operations and secrets of the hid Universe as expressed in the acts and words of the Master Initiator and of the neophyte. The great Pyramid of Cheops was a majestic fane, a majestic temple wherein those who had been duly prepared to receive a vast and sublime light, received it under wise guidance; and yet it was a tomb, but not of a dead body. It was a tomb of human personality where the lower, passionate, weak, vacillating, unsteady-minded, man became for the time being at least an imbodied god.
By the ancient magic of the Mystery-Schools of the archaic ages, at the times of the higher initiations the god came forth from within the spiritual nature and shone directly through the physical vehicle so that the body of the neophyte, as it lay in trance, was resplendent with light. And on the third day, when the neophyte was 'raised,' remaining conscious of his sublimer experiences in the inner worlds for a short or a longer period, depending upon his own spiritual power, he taught even his teachers what he had learned behind the veil. And while he was in this state his very face shone with glory, the glory of Father Sun.
The entire story of Jesus as given in the Christian New Testament is an esoteric or mystical tale setting forth in mystical form what took place in the initiation-chambers -- initiation signifying the dying of the lower man so that the higher nature of the neophyte could thereafter be released; and further that the postulant, when he had finished his three days' initiation-trial, might go forth 'anointed' or as one who had received the unction or anointing in the Mysteries.
I would that I might describe this fully. Let me, however, say this: the neophyte lay entranced for three (or more) days and nights, and during that period of time his inner being was released from the chains of the body and went on its peregrinations through the entire solar system, from planet to planet and from planet to sun, finally passing the very portals of Father-Sun. Remember that according to the Ancient Wisdom the heart of the heart of the sun is a cosmic divinity, the source of the glorious splendor and vitality which it is constantly pouring forth.
On the eve of the third day the spirit-soul began to wing its way back to its personal encasement, and on the morning of the fourth day, more or less as regards the time, the neophyte arose from the cruciform couch or bed on which he had lain attached, roped to it but for safety's sake only, and arose a Master of Light, a Master of Life, a Christ, a Buddha, one who had received the holy and mystical unction, the anointing on the forehead. Thereafter he was a qualified and authorized spiritual Teacher of men. He taught by the authority that belonged to him by natural right and by initiation, and he could say, as every such Sage and Seer has always said: I am the Way, I am the Life, I am the Light.
Everyone who has gone through these same wonderful experiences has said the same, and has truly spoken. Each one of us, if we attain in the same way, will find that it will be not merely our right but our duty to teach, and that we shall teach with authority because we shall know -- all the inner and higher part of our being will be awakened: intuition, wisdom, and knowledge instant, quick, certain, sure, and full, will infill our mind with the Mysteries of the Universe. We shall see grandly; and hence this is called the Vision Sublime.
The Mysteries of Antiquity were celebrated at various times of the year: in the spring, in the summer-time, in the autumn, and at the winter solstice.
These most sacred of the ancient Mysteries began with the winter solstice. Therein were initiated certain men who had been chosen on account of having perfected a certain preliminary period of training: chosen, not arbitrarily but because these Elect were ready for the tests, to go through initiatory trials for the purpose of bringing out into manifestation in the man the divine faculties and powers of the inner god.
The Initiatory Cycle contained the circling year as a symbol of the entire spiritual, intellectual, and psychical life-cycle of a human being; and at the four cross-periods, composing 'the cross of the Universe,' as the divine philosopher Plato, called it, there took place the four great initiation-ceremonies of human existence.
The first of these Initiations was called the 'Birth.' It took place and takes place at the time of the winter solstice, December 21-22 or thereabouts, which Christians now call the Christmas-Festival of December 25; and when this new 'Birth' occurred, then men said: "Lo! the Christ in man is born." Or: "The Inner Buddha is born from within the shell of the neophyte." As the man lived on, if he had the strength of will and the courage to proceed and to follow the Path to the second initiatory stage -- no matter how many years this may have taken or now may take -- then came the 'Easter' of his life, the second great Initiation, when the Christ within him was -- not born, because that had already taken place -- but when the Christ 'arose' and took his own stand as a fully developed Master, Teacher, Guide, and Leader, of men.
Then came the third stage, that which was commemorated mythologically by so many of the ancient peoples in the festival of the Mid-summer, of the summer solstice. On June 21-22 began the 'trials' of this third stage, and they lasted for fourteen days, beginning at a time when the moon was new and culminating and ending for that period when the moon was full. So was it also at the winter solstice or 'Christmas'-Initiation beginning on December 21-22, when the moon was new and ending fourteen days afterwards, when the moon was full. So was it also during the Spring-time, the spring equinox, the second stage; and so was it again during the Autumn-period, September 21-22: each of these Initiation-ceremonies began when, according to the ancient, wonderful, mystical, true astrology, the sun and moon and planets were rightly situated.
Every one of these Initiation-periods began either at the time of the winter solstice, or of the spring equinox, or of the summer solstice, or of the autumnal equinox; respectively therefore on December 21-22, and lasting for fourteen days until the full moon; or on March 21-22, and lasting for fourteen days until full moon; and then on June 21-22, and lasting for fourteen days until full moon; and then finally on September 21-22, and lasting for fourteen days until the moon was full.
This whole matter has been so completely lost sight of by Occidental peoples that it is most difficult adequately to describe the true circumstances; and the difficulty is rendered still greater by the fact that due to misunderstanding and ignorance and ecclesiastical bigotry and jealousy, what remained or was taken over by the early Christians has been greatly distorted and changed; so that while actually the Christians celebrated two of these great Initiation-festivals, the ones they call Christmas and Easter, they know nothing of the other two; and even the two that they still commemorate they commemorate on approximately the accurate dates, but actually inaccurately because not following the exact astronomical time-periods.
The circle of the year represented symbolically the entire Initiatory cycle that a man could follow from the beginning of his training until its end. There was the 'Birth'; then the 'Resurrection,' or rather the evocation of the inner Christ or Master, which was the mystic 'Youth' just as the former had been the mystic 'Birth'; then the third was the mystic 'Majority' or Adulthood, at which the glorious Initiate or Master of Life began an active, indeed a strenuous, career among men as Teacher and Guide and Savior; and then finally the last period, that of the Passage into the Great Peace, where, if such was the choice made and followed, the Master left the world of men for ages and entered into other spheres. Many renounced this fourth and supreme Initiation in order to remain Buddha-like, in their love and pity for erring mankind, with men in order to help them and to protect them and to guide them.
In The Story of Jesus I have briefly explained the trials of the neophyte at the winter solstice, when his spirit-soul through initiation is 'born.' Let us turn now to the spring equinox, for, from the above, it must be evident that the Easter-Festival has behind it as its background and origin an esoteric fact. It represents an actual event which occurs annually in the spiritual life of man, because the events of man's spiritual life faithfully reflect the events that take place in the spiritual life of the world.
Every great mystical event of the ancient religions and philosophies of the world was commemorated in a feast, in the ancient sense of this word -- in a festival such as Easter in Occidental lands now is, and such as was the European original and forerunner of the present-day Easter festival: the Ostara or Eastre, as it was called by different families of the early Germanic inhabitants of the northern European countries. In those lands it took the form of a celebration of the vital forces working in the Spring-time, when new life is surging through the earth and affecting all earth's children, when the trees begin to burgeon and the flowers begin to blow, and when a new hope is singing in men's hearts, representing in men, because derived from the spiritual realms, exactly what appears in the beauteous flowers that in those northern lands Nature then begins to bring forth.
How is the date of Easter reckoned today, according to the Christian fashion of doing so? It is figured in this way: Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon on the date of, or first after, the spring equinox. Bitter disputes arose in the early days of Christianity about the proper date on which to celebrate the Christian Easter-Festival, commemorating the supposed Resurrection, the rising, of their Savior; and the greatest and most bitterly debated of these disputes was called the Quartodeciman -- the word 'quartodeciman' being taken from the Latin word for fourteenth -- 'fourteenthers.' It was so called because a large body of the early Christians contended that Easter should fall on the fourteenth day -- which was full moon day -- of the Jewish month of Aviv or Nisan -- the same day on which the ancient Jews commemorated their 'Passover.'
The Jewish calendar was wholly a lunar one -- their months went by moons. As a matter of fact, even in English the word month, derived from the Anglo-Saxon Monath, means the period of one lunation or one moon, in Anglo-Saxon Mona. But the Christians, the majority of them, did not like the idea of celebrating the 'Resurrection' of their Savior, Jesus Christ, although he was a Jew, on the same date on which the Jews commemorated their Passover. They were very largely of opinion that their Easter-Festival commemorating the alleged 'Rising' of Jesus must be celebrated on a Sunday, the day of the Sun. Thus it came about that after a great deal of verbal fighting and verbal squabbling -- very bitter and unkind some of it -- the arguments of the Quartodecimans were rejected and they were declared to hold 'heretical opinions.' This event took place at the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 of the Christian Era.
This decree of the Nicaean Council showed that the Christians of that time had already lost the root-meaning of the Easter-Festival; and I may add here that the Jews had the right idea in celebrating their Passover on the fourteenth of the month Nisan, in other words when the moon was full, no matter how much the Jews themselves at that late date may have misunderstood the real meaning and significance of this Spring-Festival.
The esoteric fact connected with this Spring-Festival is one which is fully explained in our own Theosophical esoteric teachings. The moon, among all the ancient peoples and even today among non-Christian peoples practically all over the earth, has been called the 'Lord and Giver of life' as well as of 'death'; and there are certain phases of the moon, in other words certain positions that the moon occupies, taken in connexion with the astronomical positions of the sun and the earth, when influences and forces both from the moon to earth and from earth to the moon run strong. Indeed an examination of the ancient literatures of the world will reveal all this, although in some cases the truth is rather carefully hid; but a study of Theosophy will give the key to the enigma.
The old initiations have not died off from the face of the earth. They take place even today, and in the archaic way, under the supervision and guidance of men, great Sages and Seers, who know perfectly well what they are doing, and who know what the inner and to us -- to the average man -- mysterious secrets of the Universe are. They know how Nature's forces and currents run, and in what direction they run and along what pathways they return. They know, in other words, the circulations of the Universe, circulations not only physical but psychical and spiritual; for verily there are such circulations in the Universe.
Everything in the Universe is connected and bound together with every other thing that exists. Nature is one universal organism or organic entity. There is a harmony which prevails everywhere; and consequently there is a cosmic life which is the Ocean of Being in which all differentiations take place: which is the great Fountain of Being in which all things exist. Consequently Nature is one, and, as the old Hermetists said, what you see operative in any part of Nature, merely mirrors what takes place everywhere, because Nature's laws form one unity, and consequently work together everywhere throughout the Mighty Mass. Out of the small, discover the great; in the great, seek the mystery of the small; as above, so is it below; as below, as the great Egyptian Hermes said, so is it above. Nature is organically one: one life, one essence, one consciousness, and one vast and incomprehensibly differentiated aggregate of bodies; and therefore all things in the Mighty Whole are ruled and controlled alike and show it forth in the manifestations of their individual existences.
Thus, therefore, following this analogical principle: just as a man's body has its circulations, has its feeble consciousness reflected from the inner spiritual man, so has the mighty organic sphere of our own Home-Universe. Man is a child of that Universe and a reflexion of it, manifesting in the small what exists in his Great Parent.
The northern European peoples had a habit of celebrating the Easter-Festival of Spring by sending eggs, colored or otherwise, as gifts to each other. It was a pagan custom among them long before the Christians adopted it. Why, we may well ask? Out of the apparently inanimate and senseless egg comes a living being. Omne vivum ex ovo, "Every living thing springs from an egg," be it small or be it great. The egg, therefore, was a symbol of the resurrection of life, this mystic, symbolic idea centering around the germ of life enclosed within a relatively senseless encasement or body, which is the egg; but that germ within the egg is a living and working entity; growing: wonderfully, mysteriously, marvelously: in time assuming the form and the content of the individual to be born from the egg; and one day the egg bursts and the entity comes forth -- the fledgling, the chick, the human being; for the human life-germ is a cell -- which is an egg -- also.
Sending an egg was therefore a symbolic message, and was meant to say: "Brother, with this gift of the symbolic egg, symbol of the new life to be, I hope that you too will soon break the infolding 'egg' of the lower self, the personal man; and that, having broken the shell of your personal being, you may step forth as the Master within." It therefore meant: Seek initiation; break the shell of the lower personal man and step out as the living germ to be developed into an entity fit to live in the larger world of the spiritual. The egg, therefore, mystically and symbolically, represented the 'birth' of the living Christ -- his resurrection from out the tomb of the material encasement.
The personal man must be 'crucified,' i.e., 'slain' -- metaphorically speaking -- in order that the Christ within may resurrect or arise. Why not ally yourself with your own inner divinity, the real spiritual and intellectual essence of yourself? There is the source of all Wisdom and of all Knowledge. In becoming at one with this inner source you attain the Great Peace. You reach the Great Quiet, and mighty strength. You touch the vast reservoir where are stored up all the greatest forces of the Universe; for the very heart of each one is in actual fact the heart of the Universe -- a 'heart' which is not localized but is everywhere, called the 'heart of the Universe' because it is the central focus of consciousness of every entity that exists.
The Pathway of Beauty, the Pathway of Peace and Strength, the Pathway of the Great Quiet, is within. This is the Pathway that the great Sages and Seers of all the ages have taught. Follow that Pathway. It will lead you to the heart of the Sun, the Master and Guide of our Solar System. And later, if you follow it, it will conduct you to a destiny still more sublime. Yet that sublime destiny is only the beginning, only the beginning of something grander; for evolution, growth, expansion of consciousness, go on for ever: and when the Theosophist becomes the Occultist, when theory is exchanged for practice, then the Path of Occultism is discovered to be this Path which goeth onwards for ever.