Rosicrucian Writings Online
Initiation--Its Practical ValueBy Benevolentia VII°
[From The American Rosae Crucis August 1917]
1. The Ancient Mysteries
"Power belongs to him who knows," is an old axiom. But knowledge, the first step to which is right comprehension of Truth, of discerning the real from the false, is for those only who having freed themselves from every prejudice and conquered their human conceit and selfishness, are ready to accept the Truth, once it is demonstrated to them. Of these there are very few.
Let man once learn for a certainty that there is hardly a claim in the Occult Sciences that is not founded on Scientific facts in Nature, and he will pursue the study of those sciences with the same, if not with greater, ardor than he has expended in shunning them. This cannot, however, be achieved at once, for to benefit mankind such truths must be revealed gradually and with great caution, the public mind not being prepared for them.
The first and fundamental principle of Moral Strength and Power is association and solidarity of thought and purpose. It was the comprehension of these principles which led the ancients to form Secret Schools, Temples of Learning, and of Mysteries, inaccessible to all except by due trials and probations. The word "Mysteries" is derived from the Greek "Muo," i. e., to close the mouth. In Egypt and the East, all religion, even in its most poetical forms, was more or less a mystery; and the chief reason why, in Greece, a distinct name and office were assigned to the Mysteries, was because the superficial popular theology left a want unsatisfied, which religion in a wider sense alone could satisfy. Aristotle says they were the most valuable of all religious institutions, and thus were called Mysteries par excellence; and the Temple of Eleusis was regarded as, in some sort, the Common Sanctuary of the whole earth, where religion had brought together all that was most imposing and most august.
The Initiate had to become divorced from every element of exoteric superstition and priestcraft and become educated from every danger of being enslaved whether by a man or an idea. Outwardly it was a school or college, wherein were taught sciences, arts, ethics, legislation, philanthropy, the cult of the true and real nature of Cosmic phenomena; secretly, practical proofs of the latter were given.
Zoroaster and Confucius drew their doctrines from the Mysteries; Clemens of Alexandria, speaking of the Mysteries, says: "Here ends all instruction. Nature and all things are seen and known." Had moral truths alone been taught the Initiate, the Mysteries could never have deserved or received the magnificent eulogium of the most enlightened men of antiquity--of Pindar, Plutarch, Isocrates, Diodorus, Plato, Socrates, Aristophanes, Cicero, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius and others;--philosophers hostile to the sacerdotal spirit or historians devoted to the investigation of TRUTH. No; all the sciences were taught there and those oral or written traditions briefly communicated which reached back to the first age of the world. And many ancient writers have testified to the fact that whether through Temple Initiation or the private study of Theurgy, every student obtained the proof of the immortality and survival of his Soul.
Those who could learn Truth in all things,--those who could look the great Isis in her unveiled face and bear the awful Majesty of the Goddess--became Initiates. The noble precepts taught by the Initiates of the early races passed to India, Egypt, Greece, China and Chaldea, and thus spread all over the world. Their code of ethics, based on altruism, has become universal.
The ancient canon of proportion is part of the secret knowledge of the Sages of old--a knowledge long since monumented in the Great Pyramid and in the temples of Egypt, Assyria and India. Modern skill can but imitate until it shall gain access to that wisdom locked up in glyph and in symbol, the key to which lies hidden in that miracle of miracles--man.
The theme I have tried to develop may be summed up in the statement that the true Mystic or Initiate, in ancient as well as in modern times, is one who constantly strives to come to independent conclusions by rational thought, putting every truth to use, and striving to live the life in accord with that which his own reason and his own conscience point out as embodying his own moral standard of right. Truths are the springs from which duties flow; and it is but a few hundred years since a new Truth began to be distinctly seen--that man is supreme over institutions, and not they over him. They are for him according to his development, not he for them. Analogy and correspondence are guides that go with the earnest seeker after Truth, to lead him out of the labyrinth of apparent doubt into the clear plane, where reason fortified by experience is conscious of real knowledge. Nature everywhere shows us order and system, so that we must beware of so-called discoveries of the world's greatest secrets, and look for a few principles they may have discerned; pursue knowledge from all standpoints, proceeding from facts to discern law and from law to explain facts; holding deductions as tentative and throwing the light of experience upon them, so that this method of study and observation can be of the greatest value. We as finite beings may not arrive at final Truth, but our experiences will at least assure us of being on the path that leads to the apprehension of Truth.
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