Rosicrucian Writings Online

Initiation---Its Practical Value

By Benevolentia, VIII°
[From The American Rosae Crucis November 1917]
There are teachings which deal with the constitution of Nature, explain recondite laws, and throw light on hidden processes, the knowledge of which gives control over natural energies, and enables its possessor to direct these energies to certain ends, as a chemist deals with the production of chemical compounds. Such knowledge may be very useful to highly developed men, and greatly increase their power of serving the race. But, if this knowledge were published to the world, it might, and, indeed, would be misused, just as the knowledge of subtle poisons was misused in the Middle Ages by the Borgias and by others. It would pass into the hands of people of strong intellect, but of unregulated desires, men moved by separate instincts, seeking the gain of their separate selves and careless of the common good. They would be attracted by the idea of gaining powers which would raise them above the general level, and place ordinary humanity at their mercy, and would rush to acquire the knowledge which exalts its possessors to a superhuman rank. And they would not only themselves suffer in their inner nature, but they would also become a menace to society, already suffering sufficiently at the hands of men whose intellect is more evolved than their conscience.
Hence arises the necessity of withholding certain teachings from those who, morally, are as yet unfit to receive them; and this necessity presses on every Teacher who is able to impart such knowledge. He desires to give it to those who will use the powers it confers for the general good, for quickening human evolution,--to those who would not use it for their own aggrandizement at the cost of others.
At the Atlantean period, this knowledge was given without any rigid conditions as to the moral elevation, purity, and unselfishness of the candidates. Those who were intellectually qualified were taught, just as ordinary Science is taught in modern times. The publicity now so imperiously demanded was then given, with the result that men became giants in knowledge, but also giants in evil, till the earth groaned under her oppressors and the cry of a trampled humanity rang through the worlds. Then came the destruction of Atlantis, the whelming of that vast continent beneath the waters of the ocean, some particulars of which are given in the Hebrew Scriptures, in the story of Vaivasvata Manu.
Since that experience of the danger of allowing unpurified hands to grasp the knowledge which is Power, the Great Teachers have imposed rigid conditions as regards purity, unselfishness, and self-control on all candidates for such instruction. They distinctly refuse to impart knowledge of this kind to any who will not consent to a rigid discipline, intended to eliminate separateness of feeling and interest. They measure the Moral strength of the candidate even more than his intellectual development, for the teaching itself will develop the intellect while it puts a strain on the Moral nature. Far better that the Great Ones should be assailed by the ignorant for Their supposed selfishness in withholding knowledge, than that They should precipitate the world into another Atlantean catastrophe.
The Mysteries of Egypt were the glory of that ancient land, and the noblest sons of Greece, such as Plato, went to Sais and to Thebes to be initiated by Egyptian Teachers of Wisdom. The Mithratic Mysteries of the Persians, the Orphic and Bachic Mysteries and the later Eleusinian semi-mysteries of Samothrace, Scythia, Chaldea, are familiar in name, at least, as household words. Even in the extremely diluted form of the Eleusinian Mysteries, their value is most highly praised by the most eminent men of Greece, as Pindar, Sophocles, Isocrates, Plutarch, and Plato. Especially were they regarded as useful with regard to post-mortem existence, as the Initiated learned that which ensured his future happiness. Pythagoras, the great Teacher, who was initiated in India, and who gave "the knowledge of things that are" to his pledged disciples, is said to have possessed such a knowledge of music that he could use it for the controlling of men's wildest passions, and the illuminating of their minds.
Eliphas Levi well said: "The Initiate is he who possesses the Lamp of Trismegistus. The lamp of Trismegistus is Reason illuminated by science; the Mantle of Apollonius is full and complete self-possession, which isolates the sage from blind tendencies; and the Staff of the Patriarchs is the help of the Secret and everlasting Forces of Nature. The lamp burns with a triple flame, the mantle is thrice-folded, and the staff is divided in three parts. The number nine is that of divine reflections; it expresses the divine idea in all its abstract power, but it also signifies extravagance in belief, and hence superstition and idolatry. For this reason, Hermes has made it the Number of Initiation, because the Initiate reigns over superstition and, therefore can advance through the darkness, leaning on his staff, enveloped in his mantle, and lighted by his lamp. Reason has been given to all men, but all do not know how to make use of it; it is a Science to be acquired. Liberty is offered to all, but not all can be free; it is a right that must be earned. Force is for all, but all do not know how to rest upon it; it is a Power that must be seized. We attain nothing without more than one effort. The destiny of man is that he should enrich himself with what he gains, and that he should afterwards have, like God, the glory and pleasure of dispensing it . . . Initiation is a preservative against the false lights of mysticism; it equips human reason with its relative value and proportional infallibility, connecting it with Supreme Reason by the chain of analogies. Hence the Initiate knows no doubtful hopes, no absurd fears, because he has no irrational beliefs; he is acquainted with the extent of his power, and he can dare without danger. For him, therefore, to dare is to be able. Here, then, is a new interpretation of his attributes; the lamp represents Learning, the mantle which enwraps him his discretion, and his staff is the emblem of his Strength and daring. He knows he dares and is silent. He knows the secrets of the future, he dares in the present, and he is silent on the past. He knows the principle of all symbolisms and of all religions; he dares to practise or to abstain from them without hypocrisy and without impiety; and he is silent upon the one dogma of Supreme Initiation. He knows the existence and nature of the Great Magical Agent; he dares perform the acts and give utterance to the words which make it subject to human will, and he is silent upon the Mysteries of the Great Arcanum."
The Hermetic Masters have said: "Make gold potable, and you will have the Universal Medicine"--that is to say, appropriate Truth to your needs, let it become the Source at which you daily drink, and you will in yourself have the Immortality of the Sages. Temperance, tranquility of Soul, simplicity of Character, calmness and rationality of Will, these things not only make man happy, but strong and well-seeming. By growth in Reason and Goodness man becomes Immortal.
Prior to anything which may please or displease ourselves, there is a Truth--that is to say, a Reason,--and by this reason must our actions be regulated rather than by our desires, if we would create that intelligence within us which is the raison d'etre of immortality, and that Justice which is the Law thereof. A man who is truly man can only will that which is good, that which he should reasonably and justly do; so does he silence lusts and fears, that he may hearken solely to Reason.
Now, such a man is a natural king and a spontaneous priest for the wandering multitudes. Hence it was that the end of the old Initiations was indifferently termed the Sacerdotal Art and the Royal Art and the ancient associations were seminaries for priests and kings, and admission could only be obtained by truly sacerdotal and royal Works. Initiation by contest and ordeal is, therefore, indispensable for the attainment of the Practical Science. The intellectual and social chaos in the midst of which we are perishing, has been caused by the neglect of Initiation, with its ordeals and its mysteries. The essential Law of Nature, that of Initiation by Works and of voluntary and toilsome Progress, has been fatally misconstrued. What has been the consequence? The substitution of the Steel plane for the Intellectual and Symbolical plane. We firmly believe that, in order to restore tottering and distracted society, the Hierarchy and Initiation must be again established.
"Liberty does not offer itself, it must be seized," says a modern writer. It is the same with Science, for which reason, to divulge Absolute Truth is never useful to the vulgar. Let the most absolute Science, let the highest Reason, become the possession of the true chiefs of the people. Let the priestly and the royal art take up once more the double sceptre, of Ancient Initiations, and the world will reissue from chaos. Burn no more holy images, destroy no more temples; temples and images are necessary for man; but drive out the merchants from the house of prayer. Let the blind no longer be leaders of the blind; reconstruct the Hierarchy of Intelligence and Holiness, and recognize only those who KNOW as the teachers of those who believe.
Being is by reason of the being of which no one doubts. All exists for us by Science. To know is to be. Science and its object become identified in the intellectual life of him who knows. To live intellectually is to learn. Being develops and amplifies by Science. The first conquest of Science, and the first result of the Exact Sciences, is the sentiment of Reason. The laws of Nature are algebraic. The known is for us the measure of the unknown; by the visible we appreciate the invisible; sensations are to thoughts even as thoughts to aspirations. Science is a celestial trigonometry; one of the sides of the absolute triangle is the Nature which is submitted to our investigations; the second is our Soul, which embraces and reflects Nature; the third is the Absolute, in which our soul enlarges. Observe, and do not prejudge; exercise our faculties, do not falsify them; enlarge the domain of life in life; behold truth in truth. Everything is possible to him who wills only what is true. Rest in Nature, study, know, then dare; dare to will, dare to act, and be silent! Everyone reaps what he sows. He who enters into a blind alley must retrace his steps or be broken. Warn him gently, if he can still hear you, but Human Liberty must take its course. We are not the judges of one another. Life is a battlefield. Do not pause in the fighting on account of those who fall, but avoid trampling them. Then comes the Victory, and the wounded on both sides become Brothers by suffering, and, before humanity, will meet in the ambulances of the conquerors.
Such are the consequences of the philosophical dogma of Hermes; such has been from all time the ethic of true Adepts; such is the philosophy of the Rosaecrucian inheritors of all ancient Wisdoms; such is the Secret Doctrine of those associations that are treated as subversive of the public order and have ever been accused of conspiring against thrones and altars.
The true Adept, far from disturbing the public order, is its firmest supporter. He has too great a respect for Liberty to desire anarchy; Child of Light, he loves Harmony, and knows that darkness begets confusion. He wills true religion, practical, universal, full of faith, palpable, realized in all life; he will it to have a true, wise and powerful priesthood, surrounded by all the virtues and all the prestige of Faith. He wills an experimental Philosophy, real, mathematical, modest in its conclusions, untiring in its researches, scientific in its progress. Who, therefore, can be against us if God and Reason are with us?

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