Rosicrucian Writings Online

Initiation---Its Practical Value

By Benevolentia, VIII°
[From The American Rosae Crucis October 1917]
The historical Christ is a glorious Being belonging to the great hierarchy that guides the evolution of humanity, who used for some three years the body of the disciple Jesus; who spent the last of these three years in public teaching throughout Judea and Samaria; who was a healer of diseases and performer of other great works; who gathered round him a small band of disciples whom he instructed in the deeper Truths of Life; who drew men to him by the singular love and tenderness and the rich wisdom that breathed from his person; and who was finally put to death for blasphemy, for teaching the inherent Divinity of himself and of all men. He came to mark out again the ancient narrow way; to proclaim the existence of the Initiation into the Knowledge of Truth. His, the patient labor, which strengthened soul after soul to endure through the darkness, and cherish within itself the spark of mystic longing, the thirst to find the Hidden God. His, the impulse, which spoke in the thunder of Savonarola, which guided the calm wisdom of Erasmus, which inspired the deep ethics of the God-intoxicated Spinoza. His, the energy, which impelled Roger Bacon, Galileo, and Paracelsus in their searchings into Nature. His, the melody, that breathed in the masses of Mozart, the sonatas of Beethoven, the oratorios of Handel, the fugues of Bach, the austere splendor of Brahms. His, the Presence, that cheered the solitary mystics, the hunted occultists, the patient seekers after Truth.
Go back as far as we may into antiquity, we find everywhere recognized the existence of a hidden teaching, a Secret Doctrine, given under strict and exacting conditions to approved, tried and tested candidates by the Masters of Wisdom. Such candidates were initiated into "The Mysteries"--a term that covers in antiquity, as previously stated, all that was most valuable in science, most profound in philosophy, and most spiritual in religion.
Every great teacher of antiquity passed through the Mysteries, and the greatest were the Hierophants of the Mysteries; each came forth with the same story, and the solar myths are all versions of this story, identical in their essential features, varying only in their local color.
Only those could be recognized as candidates for initiation who were already good as men count goodness, according to the strict measure of the law. Pure, holy, without defilement, living without transgression--such were some of the descriptive phrases used of them. Intelligent also must they be of well-developed and well-trained minds. The evolution carried on in the world, life after life, developing and mastering the powers of the mind, the emotions and the moral sense, learning through experience, practicing the discharge of duties, seeking to help and lift others--all this belongs to the ordinary life of an evolving man. When all this is done, the individual has become "a good man," the Chrestos of the Greeks, and this he must be ere he can become the Christos. the Anointed. Having accomplished the exoteric good life he becomes a candidate for the esoteric life, and enters on the preparation for Initiation which consists in the fulfillment of certain conditions.
These conditions mark out the attributes he is to acquire, and while he is laboring to create these he is sometimes said to be treading the Probationary Path, the Path which leads up to the "Strait Gate," beyond which is the "Narrow Way," or the "Path of Holiness," the "Way of the Cross." He is not expected to develop these attributes perfectly, but he must have made some substantial progress in all of them, ere the Christ can be born in him. He must prepare a pure home for that Divine Child who is to develop within him.
The first of these mental and moral attributes is Discrimination; this means that the aspirant must begin to separate in his mind the Real from the Unreal, the True from the False; learn to discriminate between them, so that what is unreal to the world may become real to him, and that which is real to the world may to him become unreal, thus enabling him to walk by knowledge, not by sight. Then the aspirant must learn Control of Thoughts, and this will lead to Control of Actions, the thought being to the inner eye, the same as the action. He must acquire Endurance, for they who aspire to tread "the Way of the Cross" will have to brave sacrifices and sufferings, and be able to endure. He must add to these Tolerance, if he would be the Child of Him who "maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust." Further, he must acquire the Faith to which nothing is impossible, and the Balance which is described by the Apostle (II. Cor. vi., 8-10).
Thus the Evolution of Love is accomplished; and the Evolution of Love is the Evolution of The Christ. In the True Mysteries this Evolution is undergone step by step--the Candidate's Life is the Mystery Drama, and the Great Initiations mark its stages. In the Ancient Mysteries these were dramatically represented, and the ceremonies followed in many respects "the pattern" ever shown forth "on the Mount," for they were the shadows in a deteriorating age of the Mighty Realities.
There are five Great Initiations in the Life of a Christ, each one marking a stage in the unfolding of the Life of Love. At the first great Initiation the Christ is born in the disciple; it is then he realizes for the first time in himself the outpouring of the Divine Love and experiences that marvellous change which makes him feel himself to be one with all that lives. This is the "Second Birth," and at that birth the "heavenly ones" rejoice for he is born into "the kingdom of heaven," as one of the "little ones," as "a little child"--the name ever given to the new Initiate.
It is significantly said by some of the early Christian writers that Jesus was "born in a cave"--the "stable" of the Gospel narrative; the "Cave of Initiation" is a well-known ancient phrase, and the Initiate is ever born therein. Over that cave, "where the young child" is, burns the "Star of Initiation," the star that ever shines forth in the East when a child-Christ is born. Every such child is surrounded by perils and menaces, strange dangers that befall not other babes; for he is anointed with the chrism of the second birth and the Dark Powers of the unseen world ever seek his undoing. Despite all trials, however, he grows into manhood, for the Christ once born can never perish, the Christ once beginning to develop can never fail in his evolution; his fair life expands and grows, ever increasing in wisdom and stature, until the time comes for the second Great Initiation, the Baptism of the Christ by Water and the Spirit that gives him the Power necessary for the Teacher and Healer who is to go forth and labor in the world is "the beloved Son."
Then there descends upon him the glory of the unseen Father in its pure radiance, but from that scene of blessing he is led into the wilderness and exposed to the ordeal of fierce temptations. Conqueror over these temptations he passes into the world of men to use for their helping the knowledge and power he would not use for his own needs, and he who would not turn one stone to bread for the stilling of his own cravings, feeds "5000 men besides women and children," with a few loaves.
Into this life of ceaseless Service comes another brief period of glory, when he ascends "a high Mountain apart"--the Sacred Mount of Initiation. There he is transfigured and there meets some of his great Forerunners the Mighty Ones of old who trod where he now is treading. Then he passes the third Great Initiation; the shadow of his coming Passion falls on him, and he steadfastly sets his face to go to Jerusalem--repelling the tempting words of one of his disciples--Jerusalem, where awaits him the Baptism of the Holy Ghost and Fire. After the Transfiguration, the setting forth towards the last stage of the Way of the Cross. Thus is triumph ever followed by ordeal, until the Goal is reached.
Still grows the Life of Love, ever fuller and more perfect the Son of Man shining forth clearly as the Son of God, until the time draws near for his final battle and the fourth Great initiation leads him in triumph into Jerusalem, into sight of Gethsemane and Calvary. He is now the Christ ready to be offered, ready for the sacrifice on the Cross. The drinking of the bitter cup of betrayal, of desertion, of denial, meets him as he goes forth, and alone amid his jeering foes he passes to his last fierce trial. Left still to suffer, crucified, to die to the life of form, to surrender all life that belongs to the lower world, surrounded by triumphant foes who mock him--the human soul faces, in uttermost loneliness, the crushing agony of apparent defeat. Yet, summoning all the strength of the "unconquerable spirit," the lower life is yielded up, its death is willingly embraced, he rises to the life that knows no ending, radiant in the consciousness of death faced and overcome, strong to help to the uttermost every child of man. Among his disciples he remains awhile to teach, unveiling to them the Mysteries, preparing them also to tread the path he has trodden, until, the earth-life over, he ascends to the Father, and, in the fifth Great Initiation, he becomes the Master triumphant, the link between God and Man.
Such was the story lived through in the true Mysteries of old, and now and dramatically portrayed in symbols in the physical plane; Mysteries, half veiled, half shown. Such is the Christ of the Mysteries in His dual aspect, Logos and Man, kosmic and individual. Is it any wonder that this story, dimly felt, even when unknown, by the Mystic, has woven itself into the heart and served as an inspiration to all noble living? The Christ of the human heart is for the most part, Jesus seen as the Mystic Human Christ, struggling, suffering, dying, finally triumphant, the Man in whom Humanity is seen crucified and risen, whose victory is the promise of victory to every one who, like Him, is faithful through death and beyond--The Christ who can never be forgotten while he is born again and again in Humanity, while the world need Saviors, and Saviors give themselves for men.
(To be continued)

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