Rosicrucian Writings Online

The Technique of the Master

By Raymund Andrea
[From The Mystic Triangle February 1929]
MEMBERS of our Order who are acquainted with the Theosophical text books will not be unaware that the founders of the Theosophical movement were considerably indebted to a Rosicrucian Brother of the Eastern Brotherhood, for instruction and personal guidance in connection with the problems associated with the carrying out of their mission. I refer to the Brother Serapis; and I have felt prompted to base the matter of this article on a quotation from one of his letters. It leads us to the heart of the subject of the Master's technique, a subject of unfailing interest and value to all of us, and one, moreover, upon which some members have asked me to write further because so many of the deepest problems contingent upon their progress along the path are bound up with it. Inevitably so, for the word of the Master is truth, and as we strenuously qualify through self understanding to work skillfully upon and with the souls of our fellow men, we become more and more possessed with the desire to see as he sees, speak as he speaks, do as he does, that our influence may become at last a living light to kindle the ready soul to self-recognition and larger purpose.
There is one important and palpable fact about the personal communications of the Masters, and that is, their complete and unassailable expression of the phase of truth under consideration. This may appear a truism, yet it is one for reflection. For instance, if we take the majority of text books on occultism we find that the exposition is fragmentary, subsequent text books along the same lines, at a later date, even from the pen of the same writer will--I do not say, annul the former ones--but necessitate considerable mental readjustments on the part of readers. I need not specify cases, but any student of Theosophy can verify this statement. Further, such text books dealing with the same subject matter but from the hands of different writers are often very contradictory, and these divergencies in the exposition of occult truth are anything but satisfactory or helpful to the student. The positive assertions of these expositions, each so dogmatic and convincing in its way, appear equally to demand complete acceptance. If these different presentations were harmonious fragments, if they dovetailed into and corroborated each other, and formed one composite body of Cosmic truth, a very disturbing factor would be eliminated. Upon that one basis of sound and tested doctrine, the offspring of many advanced investigators in direct contact with one unimpeachable source of illumination, the student might well feel that he could ground his soul life with a deep sense of inner security. However the case is otherwise.
But when the Master speaks for the guidance of the soul we feel and know at once, and for all time, the indubitable certainty of his word. There is no need to compare it with any other utterances; no textbook is required to corroborate it. It is a phrase from Cosmic experience, and true to the experience of the evolving soul. We may not be ready to accept it now, but the time will come when we must accept it if we wish to advance. This indubitableness of the Master's word in its immediate or remote relationship to our human experience is a fact which always appeals to me as unique in literature. It is not difficult to see why it is never open to question or subject to qualification. There is no hidden depth of the soul which the Master has not sounded; no problem which he cannot instantly detach from every hampering consideration and observe it in the clear, cool light of illuminated intellect. I use the term intellect intentionally, I see no reason for assuming, as many seem to assume, that the Master, because of his lofty spirituality, condescends not to use so poor a tool as intellect. Observe the vexations and perplexities that hedge round our problems because of the ever fluctuating and darkening shadows of the emotional and mental life, obstructing the clear light of the thinking principle, and raising a host of discordant vibrations which involve us in sore distress. The Master is entirely free from that. When he surveys the problem of the soul he stands above, not within it; it is reflected comprehensively and alone upon the clear and illuminated mirror of the intellect. He knows just what it means to us; he sees the defect of knowledge or foresight which gives it birth, the keen struggle of the soul to find a solution, or the resultant reactions upon our future growth. How often an aspirant questions the wisdom, justice, and compassion of the Master because the particular burden of life is not at once removed for the asking! But if the Master is a living example of adjusted Karmic forces every conceivable soul problem must be known to him, and he also knows the beneficent reactions of every Karmic problem which besets us. Why, we cannot behold the Master's countenance, or those of any of his high initiates, without discerning deeply charactered there the blessed memorials of manhood perfected through ancient suffering. It is this immense world experience, this agedness of the soul in the Master which vibrates in his word of guidance with such sombre emphasis, and holds us true to him even in the darkest hour. I have known a trembling soul to hang upon the Master's word when nothing in life or circumstance seemed to justify it; but the soul knew even though it could not understand, and that link of imperishable force and sympathy was all sufficient.
The necessity for specialized culture of the will in occult work is a matter upon which all of us are in full agreement. In all world progress it is the great driving force; but the will to tread the path is of a higher nature. It is in reality the inner spiritual self acting steadily and unceasingly through the personality. And when, through study and meditation, and one-pointed determination to achieve masterhood, this inner self or spiritual will is gradually released and begins to act powerfully in the vehicles of the student, only then do the real problems of the Path emerge and call for the greatest strength to deal with them. Then it is that many grow profoundly doubtful of their progress, and are ready to turn to the former relative security which was theirs. So long as we do not think too deeply or demand too much, the normal rhythm of life remains undisturbed; but to have thoroughly visualized the higher possibilities and sent forth a petition into the Master's realm to share in the responsibilities and blessings of a larger service, is a direct request of the soul to be subjected to that keener discipline which alone will make the greater service possible. And the student who is not yet sure of himself, who has not realized fully the depth and reality of his pledge of allegiance to the Higher Powers, is often greatly perplexed at the definite changes occurring in his mental life, and the altered aspect of circumstances. Yet this is but one of the tests which sooner or later confronts every student, and if the general trend of his life has not evolved a measure of strength and ripeness in his faculties he will be compelled to actively school himself in a further world experience in order to successfully meet the test.
That life itself is the great initiator is a profound occult truth. It can be observed in the world of men every day. There are individuals around us who have no leaning toward the occult, yet so intense and varied are their labors, so strenuous and devoted are they in manifold works of ideal service for the race, that they have all the mental and inner equipment for rapidly passing the tests of the occult path. We have known many remarkable examples of this in the case of such individuals contacting the Order; and it brings to mind a statement in one of the early issues of our magazine: that the potentialities of a new member cannot be fully foreseen, and every care should be taken and encouragement given him in the early stages of the work in view of his possible great value and influence in the Order. In these men the will has reached its strength through long and versatile response in world experience; they stand at the point of mature mentality where they can receive the deeper knowledge of the soul; the sharp contacts and pain of life have rounded off a whole cycle of minor attachments and given them clear judgment, and a high degree of detachment from purely personal issues whereby they are able to bear the accelerated vibration which will eventuate when they take up the discipline of the Path.
This is a factor for reflection. If the common experience of life has not been such as to initiate the student into the true value and force of the will in some of its higher aspects, his allegiance to and active work in the Order will surely demand this at no distant time. He will be thrown back upon his own inner strength in the very act of demanding that strength from the Master. I will give a concrete example: A member in this jurisdiction had reached a certain stage of the Temple lectures. He had received much encouragement from others in his studies, but ultimately resigned, alleging as his reason that the work lacked what he called the human element. This is the first instance I have known of a member giving this reason for his inability to progress. The facts of the case were these: The student was satisfied with what he termed "Rosicrucian principles," and admitted that he did not want any teaching beyond these--whatever the "principles" might be. He simply was not ready to accept the inner consequences of taking practical knowledge. His will was not equal to an advance; he was content to remain stationary, resting in a limited theoretical acceptance of certain fundamentals. This is not a case for criticism, but for clear understanding. It is an occasion for regret that a student who has expressed a strong wish for higher unfoldment should yet deliberately put aside the surest means for attainment. But just at the crucial point the law of elimination became operative and he was unable to proceed because of his unreadiness. If a student fears to take the consequence of enlightenment, prefers to remain upon the little platform of knowledge he has carefully measured and erected for himself, and stifles the voice of the soul which is actually urging him to larger issues, the door of opportunity is automatically closed and he must wait until a further cycle of experience has reinforced the mental faculties with greater strength and purpose. The law demands that a student must help himself.
Now the Brother Serapis, of the Egyptian Brotherhood, refers very specifically to this matter of energetic direction of the will:  "For he who hopes to solve in time the great problems of the Macrocosmal World and conquer face to face the Dweller, taking thus by violence the threshold on which lie buried nature's most mysterious secrets, must Try, first, the energy of his Will Power, the indomitable resolution to succeed, and bringing out to light all the hidden mental faculties of his Atma and highest intelligence, get at the problem of Man's Nature and solve first the mysteries of the heart."
It is useless for us to attempt to shirk the issue by saying that the human element is lacking in phraseology of this kind. If we are still children and require our disciplinary instruction well sugared, nay, lived for us, the divine admonition of the Master will certainly prove too much for our human nature, and repel us. It is to be hoped that the majority of our members are beyond that stage; that the exigencies of life have compelled the assertion of their manhood; that they are aware of their deepest need and the need of their fellow men, and are not likely to turn back from the path they have studied and the truth they know because of what may appear to be a strain of severity in the word of the Master, which foreshadows a higher discipline and consequent renunciation perhaps of certain common interests which have had their day and dissipate energy. There may be many a secret struggle between these interests and the graver aspect of truth which silently beckons us on. It cannot be otherwise in view of the strong momentum of unspiritual mentation established during the long past in the subjective consciousness. Those of us who have persistently fought our way along certain hard phases of the path know well enough the painful misgivings, the harassing doubts, the solitary questionings of the heart, which have beset us; yet I believe there is not one of us but would testify, on emerging from the shadow, that it is well. What matters the difficulty if we have comprehended the way, the truth and the life that the Master offers us? Indeed, there is no other way by which the will can reach its strength, or the Master would certainly have told us. No matter to what Master we look for guidance, one admonition characterizes them all in regard to passing from our world into this: the necessity for the dominant force of the spiritual will is ever insisted upon.
The technique of the Master is pre-eminently active, not passive. Observe the leading thoughts of the above quotation: "Conquer: take by violence: try: indomitable resolution: bring out: get at". The whole process is one of intense inner action. I venture to affirm there is not a great character in universal history in which this supreme motive power is not seen to be a compelling factor. At first sight it may not always appear to be so; according to the manifold types and careers this central force of the awakened will may be strongly objective or more or less underlying, but it is there, organized, concentrated and potent. Only, on occult levels, a different order of experience ensues. The great character on the stage of world history does not necessarily enter consciously and with specific intent into the secret domain of the Spirit, his direction in life is technically unspiritual. Great as are his works in the manifold fields of human endeavor, strong as his ray of individual genius may be, he is not an occultist in the accepted sense of the term, nor is he subject to the laws of the occult. The sovereign faculties of intuition and reason, developed to a rare degree, make him what he is. He is not engaged in a culture, the discipline of which would carry him beyond a certain exalted stage of human consciousness. The purely occult tests are withheld; from such he may as surely shrink as would the average human being.
Now, the Master exercises all the prerogative of genius, all the faculties of human consciousness in him are raised to their highest potency, and, in addition, the spiritual counterparts, so to speak, of these faculties are operative and under perfect control, hence his vast authority, supreme value, and august ascendency over the higher manifestations of human genius. It is to the development of these deeper faculties, the spiritual counterparts of the finest faculties of human consciousness, that our attention as occult students is given, hence the note of severity which characterizes the discipline inculcated by the Master. And in attempting to pass beyond the frontiers of common worldly experience, no matter to what height of experience in any of its varied forms natural genius may have carried us within this experience, in the deliberate, conscious attempt to take the word of the Master and occultly speculate into the silent and mysterious domain of the Super Experience, the will is subjected to the finer and superphysical tests which are the unalterable laws of that domain. No man can offer himself sincerely as a candidate for his quest of the Spirit without setting up within certain powerful reactions of a peculiar and intimate character, which will surely try out what sort of man he is. It is the initial stage of a process of readjustment of all his values. There is nothing to be feared in the experience; it is a great privilege that he feels the call in his nature to meet it. Conscientious study and meditation should give him the necessary strength to meet it. It is not that he has to prepare to lose that which is dear and valuable to him, or renounce any talent or prestige he possesses in the world of men, or throw off any business or domestic obligations to which he is committed--not a word of this is written in the vocabulary of true occultism. He has simply to cultivate strength of will to realize himself as he is--which implies far more than we usually think, for when the force of concentrated will is focused steadily and over a long period upon the psychic and spiritual self, every motive and tendency buried in the heart of man is awakened to palpitating life and activity, all that Karma has written in his members arises and confronts him.
That is one phase of the great problem to which the admonition of the Master applies; and there it is, before that intimate personal disclosure of the man he is, that the student has to stand firm and undismayed in the face of much that he would hesitate to utter. Is there then any wisdom in averting the eyes from that which the Spirit demands that he should fearlessly confront and steadily overcome? We have called upon the name of the Master and the answer comes in the form of the vital refining fire that descends within to purge and purify every one of us who aspires after the hidden mysteries. Shall we weakly decline what we have deliberately invoked and postpone the blessed work of personal redemption, because of the imminent possibility of the mortal self, which we love so well, being stretched sacrificially upon the cross which rises mystically on the path before us? Is there any tragedy in life like unto that in which a man, having taken knowledge of the way, retreats from the call of the Cosmic when the dark hour comes in which he must find his own light and press steadfastly on?
In my work in the Order it has been my privilege to have this problem again and again raised by students who have stood face to face with the shadow of the dark night of the soul, to which their strong and sincere effort on the path had brought them; and one of the greatest inspirations to me has been to note their firm grip on themselves, their philosophical stand in their trial, and the deep spiritual assurance they have had that all must be well and the goal would be reached. They are right. The Master's word has not gone forth for naught; and we can prove this by taking the austere ritual of the conquering will uttered by the Brother, and working it out in the silence, until all that is hidden in the inmost recesses of the heart is brought to light, and understood, and the baser metals transmuted into the pure gold of inner illumination.

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