Spiritual Unfoldment 3
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The capacity of the astrologer in any specific period to respond to the changes which are all the time taking place, such as the gradual shifting and changing brought about by the precession of the equinoxes, or the slow shift of the pole of the planet. To this should be added that—as man evolves—the mechanism of response or the vehicles of consciousness likewise steadily improve. His reactions, therefore, to the planetary influence and to the energy of the various constellations change with equal steadiness and allowance must be made for this. It is consequently essential that the modern astrologer begin to study the point in evolution of the subject, prior to casting his horoscope.
He must ascertain his approximate place upon the path of evolution. To this end, the study of the rays is most necessary through an investigation as to quality and characteristics and life objectives. Astrologers will eventually be able to cast the horoscope of the soul, which is sensitive to different combinations of forces to those controlling the personality life.
The disciple and the initiate respond distinctively to the incoming influences and their response differs from that of the undeveloped man or the self-centred person. This will have to be recognised. Those who "live below the diaphragm" and who react to the incoming energies through the medium of the lower centres will have a very different type of chart to that of the disciple and initiate.
It will require a different mode of interpretation. I have referred to this before and would remind you of some of the points which I made. Disciples upon the Path of Discipleship are strongly influenced by Mercury and Saturn —one bringing illumination and the other offering opportunity. At the various initiations, the influence of the planets affects the candidate in a totally different manner than earlier.
Cyclically the energies from the constellations pour through the planetary centres. At the first initiation, the disciple has to contend with the crystallising and destroying forces of Vulcan and Pluto. The influence of Vulcan reaches to the very depths of his nature, whilst Pluto drags to the surface and destroys all that hinders in these lower regions. At the second initiation, the candidate comes under the influence of three planets— Neptune, Venus and Jupiter. The three centres—solar plexus, heart and throat—are actively involved. At the third initiation, the Moon veiling a hidden planet and Mars bring about a fearful conflict,  but at the end the man is released from personality control.
Here Levi does not refer to the Sabbath of the Jews or to their Temple, but to the so-called "Sabbath of the Sorcerers", a survival of the old mystery cults, and to the rites of the ancient Knights of the Temple. It is represented on ancient monuments by the girdle of Isis which twines in a love knot around two poles, by the bull-headed serpent, by the serpent with the head of a goat or a dog, and by the serpent devouring its own tail.
It is the double serpent of the caduceus the wand of Hermes or Mercury , and the tempter of Genesis; but it is also the brazen snake of Moses, encircling the Tau, that is, the generative lingam. Lastly, it is the devil of exoteric dogmatism, and is really the blind force which souls must conquer, in order to detach themselves from the chains of the earth. To know how to master this agent so as to profit by and direct its currents is to accomplish the Great Work, to be master of the world, and the depositary even of the power of God.
We are, in fact, saturated with this light and continually project it to make room for more; by this projection the personal atmosphere is created. The settlement and polarization of this light about a center produces a living being; it attracts all the matter necessary to perfect and preserve it. It is the first physical manifestation of the Divine Breath. God creates it eternally, and man, in the image of the Deity, modifies and apparently multiplies it in the reproduction of his species.
These four properties, directed by the will of man, can modify all phases of Nature. In making use of the term fluid in connection with this force, we employ a received expression, but we are far from determining that the latent light is a fluid; everything, on the contrary, leads us to prefer the system of vibrations, in the explanation of this phenomenal force. However that may be, the coming synthesis of chemistry will probably lead our physicists to knowledge of this universal agent.
A complete revolution of science will follow, and we shall return to the transcendent magic of the Chaldeans. It is also evidence that the strange symbols of the Ageless Wisdom reveal a true science to him who can rightly interpret them. From those symbols Levi learned the secret of the Astral Light, and the knowledge so gained enabled him to make a remarkable prophecy.
Every detail of his prediction has been fulfilled through the achievements of modem invention in making use of "a force more powerful than steam", which is "a fluid and a perpetual vibration", and which, long before modem theories of the constitution of matter were framed, Levi described as "an electromagnetic ether, diffused throughout infinity, the substance of heaven and earth". Men of science laughed at him in Today their grandchildren paraphrase his doctrine but ignore his genius.
The complete revolution of chemistry through a new synthesis, and the overturn of nineteenth-century "science" as a result of it, have come to pass. The devices of our electrical civilization fulfill Levi's predictions to the letter. Electricity kills criminals and heals the sick. With it we change the order of the seasons, providing ourselves with heat in winter and ice in summer. Telephones and telegraphs enable us to correspond instantaneously from one end of the world to another, making us practically omnipresent. Wireless transmission of photographs is the promise of an invention which before many years have passed will enable us to see distant events at the moment they happen.
And when one voice can be broadcast and magnified as it is by radio, so that millions may listen to the words of a single man, is not human speech "endowed with a universal reverberation and success"? Recent investigation of interatomic forces shows what incredible power would be at the command of a man who could release the energy pent up in a few ounces of common earth. It is unlikely that this secret will become generally known until humanity is better prepared to use it wisely.
They who possess it now are few, and they are too wise to misuse what they know. Yet for those who are duly and truly prepared, there are means whereby the tremendous force of the Astral Light may be utilized with safety. Whosoever is willing to comply with the laws of its subtler phases of manifestation, and willing, too, to meet the tests of mind and character imposed by Those who keep the Great Secret, may learn that a man may indeed break up the conditions of his personal world, reduce them to their elemental chaos, or confusion, and then from these same elements, proceed to form that world anew.
Every man lives in a world of his own creation, built in accordance with his own imagined mental pattern. Change the pattern and you change the world. The Astral Light is a blind force only so long as we are blind. As Levi says, "The will of intelligent beings acts directly upon this light, and by means thereof, upon all nature". It always responds to our mental direction, even when it seems to be working against us. Whatever pattern we impress upon it, that pattern it follows.
Thus by the very laws which bring discord and suffering we may enjoy harmony and well-being. What those laws are, and how to use them, is an important part of our teaching Levi's words summarize the doctrine of the Western School of the Ageless Wisdom. We shall now compare them with some of the teachings of the Eastern School. Levi has told us that the Astral Light is the "first physical manifestation of the Divine Breath". The Hindus also employ a term which means "Breath" when they describe the fundamental cosmic force. Their term is PRANA, a Sanskrit noun defined by Rama Prasad, in Nature's Finer Forces, as follows: "Prana is the life-principle of the universe and its localized manifestation; the life principle of man and other living beings.
The suns are different centers of the ocean of Prana, and it is in this ocean that move the various heavenly bodies. It is the Prana that is manifesting as motion; it is the Prana that is manifesting as gravitation, as magnetism. It is the Prana that is manifesting as the actions of the body, as the nervecurrents, as thought-force.
From thought down to the lowest physical force, everything is but the manifestation of Prana. The sum-total of all force in the universe, mental or physical, when resolved back into its original state, is called Prana. The knowledge and control of this Prana is what is really meant by Pranayama. Suppose, for instance, one understood the Prana perfectly, and could control it, what power on earth would there be that would not be his?
This is the end of Pranayama. When the Yogi becomes perfect there will be nothing in nature not under his control. All the forces of nature will obey him as his slaves, and when the ignorant see the powers of the Yogi they call them miracles. The Yogis have developed elaborate physical and mental exercises intended to rouse the activity of Prana in certain ganglia of that system. These exercises, however, are not adapted to the conditions of Western life. They must be modified considerably before they may be employed safely by persons of European stock.
Not a few of the breathing exercises which have been given wide circulation in books and lessons are likely to do more harm than good. Pranayama should never be practiced without a teacher, and we need to make sure that our instruction comes from competent sources. On the other hand, it is impossible to make any real progress in practical occultism without taking some risks. The Great Magic Agent is cosmic electricity, and he who undertakes to control its tremendous energy must be prepared to face some degree of danger.
Once we have exercised due care and intelligence in our selection of a teacher, we should be careful always to follow his instructions exactly. Practical occultism is emphatically not a study in which the pupil may take what our schools call "electives". On this point I can do no better than to quote a chapter-heading from Talbot Mundy's recent story, Om.
None who climbs a mountain bargains that the guide shall keep to this or that direction; it is the business of the guide to lead. I find this of the essence of perversity. Ignorant dabbling with unknown forces is sheer folly. Hence the wise advise us to be well grounded in theory before we attempt to perform the Great Work.
On the other hand, success is denied to cowards, and there is altogether too much fear-thought in some of the warnings against the dangers of occultism which we hear nowadays. Not seldom the person who tries to scare us away from occult practice is concealing the lack of power and knowledge behind a smoke-screen of words. Turning now from the Hindu teaching to the more familiar field of the Bible, we find ample evidence therein that Moses and the priests of Israel knew about the Great Magic Agent.
Egypt, of course, was the great source of their knowledge, as the Bible tells us. The Logoi are the same as the mantra of the Hindus. No great penetration is required to read between the lines of many Old Testament passages. Take for example the Ark of the Covenant, which stood in the Holy of Holies. Judging from the descriptions, it was constructed on much the same principle as a Leyden jar, so that it might give a sharp shock to anyone who profaned it with a touch.
Such a shock, intensified by the fear and awe of the one unfortunate enough to sustain it, would be enough to kill. The story of Elijah and the priests of Baal 1 Kings is another instance which hints strongly that the prophet had more than a little knowledge of electrical laws.
Even the Hebrew noun translated "spirit" in our Bibles contains internal evidence that the sages of Israel knew the real nature of the Life-Breath, which is the correct translation of the noun Ruach, making it practically identical with the Sanskrit Prana. Ruach is spelt with three Hebrew letters which we may transliterate into Roman characters as R, V and Ch. The Hebrew alphabet differs from others in that every letter is a word which designates a natural object.
Hence we may learn something of the real meaning of any technical term used by the sages of Israel if we consider what is implied by the series of objects named by the letters which spell the particular word whose esoteric significance we wish to discover. We interpret it thus: The Life-Breath is a force having its highest centers of terrestrial manifestation in the head of man, where it is transformed into thought-force 1.
The Life-Breath, being diffused throughout space as Rama Prasad says, the ocean of energy wherein move the heavenly bodies , is the connecting link between all things, and the connecting link, also, between thought and external conditions 1. Those conditions are themselves expressions of the Great Magic Agent, and since all human activities are therefore concerned with its various modifications, we may describe it as the field n wherein we labor, and whose conditions we seek to control, cultivate and adapt for our welfare.
Sunlight is the form in which the Life-Power is made available for our use on the physical plane. This fact, too, is suggested by the noun Ruach, for in the Secret Wisdom of Israel the first letter of that word symbolizes the sun. All that we see, all that we hear, all that we experience through any channel of sensation, enters our field of consciousness because the sun shines. The earth is a wheel in a machine driven by solar force, and the movements of matter upon its surface are caused by transformations of the sun's radiant, electro-magnetic vibrations.
The measured heat of waves upon the shore, the slow, majestic progress of a great river sweeping to the sea, the song of a mountain rill running to meet its mates and join its waters with theirs, the bubbling of hillside springs, the fall of every raindrop - these are the watery vesture of solar light and heat. The wind, driving storm-clouds through the sky, the breeze stirring the curtain, the wild tornado cutting a path of death, the steady trades carrying proud ships on peaceful errands of commerce - all these are phases of the influence of sunlight upon our atmosphere.
Every breath drawn by a living creature, and every transformation of that breath into sound, is an expression of the same power. Every prayer and every curse, every word of wisdom and every utterance of folly, is made possible by sunshine. The shrill call of bugles sounding an attack, the solemn organ music resounding beneath cathedral arches - these are the sunlight's garments of air. Every fire that burns is a flame lit up by the sun.
Think what this world would be without fire. The history of civilization is the story of man's progress in mastering and utilizing fire. Almost everything we possess has passed directly through fire, or has been fashioned by machines driven by fire. All the energy of fuel is imprisoned sunlight. And what is more marvelous than this slow fire in o w bodies, lit before our birth, which, while it burns, is life itself'? We are all pillars of invisible fire - invisible, that is, to ordinary sight, though there are persons who have the finer vision which enables them to see it.
Spiritual Unfoldment 3: The Way to the Inner Mysteries
The mastery of this vital flame is one of the great occult secrets. Fire and water and air, with the merest touch of mineral substance itself composed of points of light or fire - this is what we really are, no matter what we seem to be. These our bodies, disguised as gross flesh and blood, are forms of living light.
Every beat of our hearts, every inspiration and exhalation of our breath, every process of organic function, is a work of sunlight stored in our body-cells. Furthermore, whatever else they may be, mental states are certainly functions of our brains and nervous systems. On other planes of existence there may be other laws, but here on earth thinking means movement of brain-cells. Our brains change sunlight into thoughts. Of these thoughts, some are masters and some are slaves.
Some are friends and some are foes. Some build and some destroy. The master-thoughts rule our minds and control our bodies. They have brought about every change in human environment. Translated into action through muscular activity, they become the seeds of civilization - of science, invention, art, philosophy and religion. Yet not one of these master-thoughts could have emerged from a human brain, nor could any of the actions which have changed the face of the world have sprung fi-om them, but for the shining of the sun.
The sun prepared the stage of the world for man. It raised the mountains and leveled the plains. It carved the water-courses and hollowed out the basins of the seas. It covered the earth with vegetation, and peopled it with animal life. And after the long. So began the art of architecture which raised the Pyramids, carved the Sphinx, and covered the globe with human habitations. Sunlight has built every house, carved every statue, painted every picture, danced every dance, uttered every word, written every book, and shaped every invention known to man.
And because we know that solar force, working through human brain-cells, takes form in states of consciousness, we know that it is, potentially at least, a mental force. Thought at our end - the expressing end - of the cosmic play of light vibrations, implies a mental quality at the source of those waves of living light. Our sun, moreover, is but one among a host of similar centers of electro-magnetic force.
Throughout infinite space are scattered countless points of expression, great and small, for a power which, because among us men it produces the phenomena of consciousness, must be supposed to include the power to know among its manifold possibilities. We live day and night in the presence and through the activity of a universal radiance which manifests itself through suns. These are like dynamos, sending out the motive-power which drives the planets of their respective world-systems. Material science ignores the mental potency of the Great Magic Agent.
The Ageless Wisdom has always recognized it. Matter is the effect produced upon our senses by certain forms of the Life power, but physicists explain the constitution of matter in terms which lead straight to the conclusion that all things are expressions of a purely immaterial power. Atoms are made of electrons, and electrons are points of energy.
A point is defined as having neither length, breadth nor thickness. If you object that some scientists are always insisting that electrons are bodies, and not points, the fact remains that the stuff these "bodies" are made of is not matter.
There is nothing material about it. It is energy, and "energy" means simply "working power". An immaterial power expressing itself as light, as the force producing all vital phenomena, animating every living creature - an invisible, impalpable, yet real, force, which sets worlds dancing through space, and upon them plays the drama of life. Science pictures this. Science itself is the working of that same power through human brains - an aspect of the cosmic process of self-revelation whereby the Life-power eternally makes Itself known to Itself.
Call it electricity, Astral Light, Prana, Ruach, or whatever you please. No name can define It. Names are only designations. What the Life-power is in Itself we do not know, nor may our finite minds hope to comprehend that mystery.
Yet may we apprehend It as subsisting by Itself, independent of every mode of existence. This is the L. This is the One Thing whence, according to the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus, founder of alchemy, all things proceed; yet is this One Thing No-Thing, because the Source of all things cannot possibly be any of the things which spring forth from Its limitless subsistence.
Hence the innermost essence of that L. In these lessons It will usually be called either the Lifepower, or L. Always Itself, absolutely one, complete, whole and perfect, L. Jacob Boehme called it the Ungrund Foundationless , the subsistence behind and beneath all forms of substance, the rootless root of the energy which gives rise to all movement, the Causeless Cause of the life of every creature.
Limitless, infinite, It has no boundary. Hence, as more than one seer has declared, Its center must be everywhere. This mathematical truth is a key to many secrets of the Ageless Wisdom. It means that the Limitless Light is the central reality, now and always, of every thing, of every creature, of every person. Because L. To help you to realize this truth, instead of merely believing it and talking about it, and to show you how to make this truth a practical working principle in your daily life is one aim of this course. As an aid to this end we have formulated a series of affirmations to be used every morning and every evening by our affiliates.
In the morning the series should be said aloud, beginning from No. In the evening the reverse order should be followed. Face East in the morning and West in the evening, not because of any special occult virtue which may reside in either direction, but because your subconsciousness knows, if you do not, the age-old symbolism of the places of the sun's rising and setting. In short, the position you take stimulates certain important associations of ideas which help to put your personal consciousness in harmony with the rhythm of cosmic life-currents. These statements formulate the truth about yourself, no matter whether you comprehend that truth in all its details at this time or not.
Recited from 1 to 10, the affirmations are a series of logical deductions corresponding to the path of the descent of the Life-Power into the conditions of Name and Form which constitute the world we live in. This order is therefore observed at the beginning of the day, to impress the whole organism, before attention is engrossed by the details of the day's events, with the true relation of personality to its invisible Source, the Life-Power.
At night we use the reverse order, corresponding to the path of return from the conditions of Name and Form, because this prepares the mind for union with the L. The affirmations correspond to the ten aspects of L. Learn them truly by heart, not merely by rote, and dwell upon their meaning as you recite them. Every word is significant.
Not one has been chosen haphazard. When you recite the series in reverse order, keep in mind the difference of meaning which is affected by changing the order. In the evening recitation the first change of meaning is in the eighth statement, which then points the mind upward toward the Primal Will, which is the Eternal Splendor or White Brilliance of the Limitless Light. In like manner the words, "that Will", in the seventh sentence cany the mind up and back toward the Primal Will, considered as the goal or objective of the path of return.
The grammatical reference of the pronoun "Its" is also altered when this order is reversed. In the morning recitation the pronoun refers to the creative and sustaining Will. At night in the third, fourth and second sentences , the same pronoun refers to the undeviating Justice. This is important, because one reason for the evening recitation is to help you to recognize that Justice at work in the events of the day which has just passed. Due attention to these distinctions of meaning will prevent mechanical repetition of the words. Feel their import as vividly as you can, and the results will be better.
Understand from the very beginning that the affirmations contain many subtleties of which you will not become aware until some time after you have begun to recite them. Be on the watch for the deeper sense of the statements, and you will get far more out of this exercise. Preface the recitation always with the phrase, "This is the truth about the Self'. The noun, Self, is capitalized, to emphasize the distinction between personality and the I AM of which it is the mask and instrument. I am a center of expression for the Primal Will-to-Good which eternally creates and sustains the universe.
Through me its unfailing Wisdom takes form in thought and word. Filled with Understanding of its perfect law, I am guided moment by moment along the Path of Liberation. From the exhaustless riches of its Limitless Substance, I draw all things needful, both spiritual and material. I recognize the manifestation of the undeviating Justice in all the circumstances of my life. In all things, great and small, I see the beauty of the Divine Expression. Living from that Will, supported by its unfailing Wisdom and Understanding, mine is the Victorious Life. I look forward with confidence to the perfect realization of the Eternal Splendor of the Limitless Light.
In thought and word and deed, I rest my life from day to day upon the sure Foundation of Eternal Being. The Kingdom of Spirit is embodied in my flesh. Recite the affirmations in the morning before dressing. Say them at night just before you go to bed. Adhere strictly to these directions, and to others that you will find in these lessons.
This teaching doesn't represent merely the personal opinions and methods of Paul Case, although he prepares the lessons, and has been delegated to conduct the external work of the Order for the time being. You have had confidence enough in the value of our work to assume your share of the expense of extending it among seekers for Light. Begin now to be a true Builder by resolving to do your part of the undertaking in exact accordance with the plans laid out on the trestle-board of these lessons.
What have you set out to build? We are dedicated to making human personality and through its activities, human environment , what the Bible calls "the secret place of the Most High", what the Chaldean Oracles describe as "the adytum of god nourished Silence". Just as the building of a house takes material gathered from various places, and assembles it according to a plan, so the work of building the Adytum takes the raw material of human experience, and shapes it in a particular way. The end sought is to make man actually what he has always been potentially, a conscious expression of the Cosmic Will.
To attain this end is to become a Master of L. The building of the Adytum, therefore, requires us to control our bodies, to direct the life currents playing through them, to equilibrate the forces of the emotional life, and to master the modifications of the mind. This undertaking is well named the Great Work, and as you begin it, you will do well to pause to consider how serious an undertaking it really is. You are not simply taking up a study which interests you more or less. You are not trying to gratify your idle curiosity. You have felt an urge to respond to that call.
Whether or not you have chosen to be one of those who complete the work depends largely upon yourself. The Great Work is not easy. Time after time you may be assailed by doubts, and by impulses to give it up. Yet they who persevere to the end will surely enjoy the bliss of the liberation which comes through realization. This we know, we whose part it is to lay the plans before you. None of us claims to be a Master of L.
We do not pretend to have completed the journey, but we have followed the Path of Return long enough and far enough to know that what has been said of it by the Brothers and Sisters in L. We have learned what little we know because we have followed a long line of Builders whose plans and specifications of the Work have been preserved throughout the ages. You may attain to the same certainty. Whether we use the Sanskrit term Svara, "The current of the life-wave" of which Rama Prasad says, "There is nothing in the manifested universe which has not received existence from the Great Breath, which is the Prana of the universe on the highest plane of life" , or choose some other term, such as the Greek Pneuma, the Latin Spiritus, or the Hebrew Ruach, matters little.
The main thing is to understand that these are not names for different things, but different names for one thing - the Life-Power which beats in our hearts, breathes in our lungs, digests food in our stomachs, and thinks in our brains. In these lessons we shall often use the Hebrew term, Ruach RVCh , because later on we shall find it a convenient word to sum up many details of knowledge about the Life-Breath.
Here, too, is unity of doctrine among teachers of the Ageless Wisdom. Whatever labels they employ, they always declare that the One Thing which is really No-Thing, because the Cause of all cannot be any of the things which it causes is essentially the "power that knows itself'. Thus, in the teaching of the Qabalah, there is a plain declaration that Ruach is the thinking principle in human life, and the Swami Vivekananda says that Prana is manifest in all activities, from thought down.
So also Eliphas Levi, who writes: "The will of intelligent beings acts directly upon this light, and by means thereof, upon all nature, which is made subject to the modifications of intelligence. Thus we find triads, or trinities, in every exoteric religion - veils or personifications of the threefold manifestation of L. Commenting upon the universality of this trinitarian doctrine, Dr. Wynn Westcott writes: "It is impossible to study any single system of worship throughout the world without being struck by the peculiar persistence ofthe triple number in regard to divinity; whether as a group of deities, a triformed or 3-headed god, a mysterious Trinity, a deity of 3 powers, or a family reZationshQ of 3 persons, such as the Father, Mother and Son of the Egyptians, Osiris, lsis and Horus.
Between these last-named personifications of the triple aspect of the Life-Power a closer correspondence exists than is generally known. The Hindu Brahma is a creator, like God the Father; Vishnu is the preserver, even as the Son is the Savior; and Shiva, the transformer, is like the Holy Spirit, under whose influence this world is expected by Christians to be destroyed by fire, that it may be renewed in a timeless eternity, when there shall be a new heaven and a new earth. Understand, however, that we are proponents of no special exoteric doctrine. We consider the deific trinities as being symbols whereby the race-mind has tried to formulate its intuition that the Life-Power works in a triple manner throughout its self-manifestation.
We hold that the Life-Power presents itself to the human mind in three aspects because every expression of human intelligence is really an outpouring of the self-knowledge of the One Living Consciousness. Through the human brain the One Life knows itself. The examples given thus far are probably more or less familiar. In passing to others not so generally known, let me say again that we do not concern ourselves with different things, but with other names for the same things. The reason for learning these different names is that they will be useful later on, as we proceed with our investigation of symbolism, the second condition which Count Korzybski regards as being so important in the solution of human problems - for in symbolism all thought about the cosmos and its forces finds expression.
One purpose of this Section of the work is to give you an adequate set of symbols which shall be as simple as possible. Many elements of this system are taken from the Qabalah, or Secret Wisdom of Israel. Their total number is small, but the applications are innumerable. In addition to the Qabalistic symbols you will also learn a few from Hindu sources, some which have come down from Egypt, and others pertaining to the closely interrelated sciences of alchemy and astrology.
Does this seem a formidable program? It is far easier than it sounds. Master each lesson thoroughly, so that when you have finished it you may recognize at a glance the symbols it explains and recall their principal meanings. Then your progress will be sure and steady. If you content yourself with a mere cursory perusal of these pages, you will soon find yourself wandering in a maze of incomprehensible terms, but your troubles will be the direct outcome of your own carelessness.
Starting with the idea, accepted everywhere and at all times by the wise, that the One Thing is "the power which knows", or consciousness, it becomes evident that all these triads and trinities must necessarily refer to three aspects of consciousness. The task of choosing adequate names for them is not easy, because one may find flaws in every classification. In these lessons the three aspects of the manifestation of the One Consciousness will be termed 1 subconsciousness, 2 self-consciousness, 3 superconsciousness.
It takes in everything fiom the rudimentary mental activities of the mineral kingdom, up through the more highly developed aspects of consciousness manifested in plants and animals, to the phases of mental action in man which include control of bodily h c t i o n , habit, and so on. In the term subconsciousness, then, we include all that is described by Thomson J. Hudson under the name "subjective mind", by Myers and others as "subliminal consciousness", by materialistic psychologists as "unconscious cerebration", by investigators in the field of abnormal psychology as the "coconscious", and by Freud and his school as the "unconscious".
To this last name we take exception, because we have come to understand that no part of the cosmos can be conscious. When the Life-Power works through the mechanical and chemical activities of the physical plane, it seems to be a blind and fatal force, because we can sense only a fraction of its operation. In truth there are no blind forces. Not one atom is without life and mind. The agelong process of evolution which has produced an instrument the human brain - through which the Life-Power takes form as thought is a process which expresses a mental tendency eternally subsisting in the Life-Power itself.
Even in the mineral kingdom this tendency appears. The germ of rationality shows itself in the whirling of electrons around the central nucleus of an atom, inasmuch as this terrific interatomic activity is governed by mathematical, and therefore rational, laws. A little higher in the scale, the same laws are exemplified in the geometrical formation of crystals. Even a slight knowledge of chemistry shows mental activity in seemingly inorganic matter. Atoms have their loves and their hates, their affinities, their marriages and their divorces.
Metals are subject to fatigue, and may even be poisoned. In short, the forms of matter which are usually thought of as being "lifeless" are now known to possess qualities which make them act precisely as if they had rudimentary sensations and emotions. This knowledge has come to us as the result of laboratory experiments made by hard-headed, materialistic physicists. Francd, in Germs of Mind in Plants, gives an interesting account of many forms of mental activity in the plant world. He says that some plants can smell, and describes a vegetable parasite which can "recognize the slightest odor of its victim, and, overcoming all obstacles, will crawl directly to it - something almost incredible had it not been proved over and over again.
In the hemp-raising districts there is found every year a strange flesh-colored and also flesh-appearing substance known and feared by the farmer as hemp-death.
Spiritual Unfoldment Ed. 3
This growth, which the botanists call Orobanche, lives from the sap of the hemp roots, and with unfailing certainty it turns every one of its subterranean sprouts in the direction of these roots". In like manner, strawberry plants send their creepers in the direction of moist ground, and many other plants exhibit evidences of sensation and purpose. In the animal kingdom this mental quality gradually increases its depth and range, and in human life the whole process of mineral, plant and animal evolution is summed up in the fbnctions of subconsciousness.
Subconsciousness has perfect memory, preserving a record of even the most fleeting senseimpressions, moods or thoughts. It is the body-building power which forms the child in the mother's womb, and which governs every function of every organ of the body.
As Hudson has shown in his Law of Psychic Phenomena, subconsciousness is always and uncritically amenable to suggestion, and obeys the predominant suggestion. It can also reason deductively from any given premise in so perfect a series of syllogisms that many of its products have ensnared the whole world by their plausibility, simply because the error in the premises has escaped detection. Because of this amenability to suggestion, this influence over bodily function and organization, and this power of perfect memory and deduction, subconsciousness may be either our best friend or our worst foe.
Its perfect memory is an inexhaustible treasure-house of images, wherein are stored all the symbols of the race-mind. Subconsciousness is the preservative element in our lives. It enables us to form habits, thus tending to establish conditions of thought and action which are more or less fixed, or what we call "conservative". Thus it has in it a static quality which enables us to identify it with what Hindu psychologists name TAMAS, the principle of darkness and inertia. The Western school of occultism designates the same quality by the alchemical term SALT, and uses this symbol for it.
This sign is an oval, bisected horizontally by a line, separating that which is above from that which is below, and suggesting the dual operation of the principle. In some books the alchemical SALT is represented by a circle with a horizontal diameter; but the form given here is older. We prefer it, because it suggests an egg, and also the process of cell-division which attends the body-building functions of subconsciousness. Subconsciousness may be thought of as the egg whence the higher modes of consciousness are hatched in the course of the evolution of the cosmic mental quality.
WATER is another symbol for subconsciousness. Water was the first mirror, and because mirroring is duplication, or reflection, it is akin to remembering, in which an original experience is duplicated or reflected. Water, again, is related to Salt, because of the saltiness of sea-water. The alchemical symbol for Water is a blue, inverted, equilateral triangle: V In the noun Ruach RVCh , the final letter, Ch, corresponds to subconsciousness, because the latter is the field we have to cultivate.
Hebrew occultists say that the letter Ch represents speech, and this is another indication that the letter corresponds to the subconscious activities, inasmuch as all the images, metaphors, similes, definitions, and other parts of a language are stored in this "field". Hereafter, then, subconsciousness will be represented for you by the letter Ch of Ruach, by V, which represents Water, and by 8,the alchemical sign for Salt. Remember that this salty, preservative, and therefore conservative, aspect of subconsciousness is the principle of darkness because all our subconscious operations are in the "dark" so far as our conscious knowing is concerned , and inertia because all that holds us back is the weight of subconscious deduction fiom erroneous premises.
Selfconsciousness finds its highest expression in the process of inductive reasoning. It formulates the premises which subconsciousness accepts as suggestions, elaborates by deduction, and carries out in the direction of physiological function and organization. Self-consciousness is founded upon the experiences of sensation. The driving power in the greater number of its activities is desire. The Life-Power's expression through it is always a quest into the unknown, for inductive reasoning is ever an attempt to answer questions.
In self-consciousness, moreover, the distinctions between past, present and future are sharply drawn. Our memories of the past, our reactions to the present, and our anticipations of the future are all colored and modified by our desires. Thwarted desires lead to anger. Desire, moreover, has in it something of heat and fire, because all desire is an urge toward self-expansion.
Desire, therefore, is the transforming power in consciousness, and its effects upon the physical and finer bodies are disintegrating, form-destroying. To desire anything is to wish that some present condition may cease to exist. Desire tears down continually.
Some occultists believe the noun sulphur to be derived fiom the Latin A, sun, and the Greek m, fire. Hence they define alchemical sulphur as "sun-fire". We question the accuracy of this derivation. It is true, however, that every activity of our waking consciousness is a transformation of solar energy. The upright triangle symbolizes the cosmic fire. The cross signifies the subdivision of that fire into the four states of matter which the ancients called Fire, Water, Air and Earth. Thus the Sulphur symbol designates the fivefold nature of self-consciousness, fivefold because its modifications are based upon the senses.
Of these, one corresponds to the cosmic fire, and the other four are developments of its elementary manifestations. Concerning this you will learn more in the next lesson. Another alchemical symbol for self-consciousness is FIRE, chosen because of the formdestroying nature of all self-conscious activities.
- Spiritual Unfoldment 3.
- Three On A Match?
- School Bus Cross Stitch Pattern.
Its emblem is a red upright equilateral triangle: A Self-consciousness corresponds also to the middle letter of Ruach, the letter V, because it is the connecting link between human beings. Other reasons for this correspondence will be explained in due course. We find no words to describe it because all the words in the dictionary are symbols of various states of self-consciousness. In some few members of every generation, consciousness evolves beyond the limitations of intellect. In a remarkable work, Cosmic Consciousness, lately reprinted by E.
We do not at all agree with Dr. Bucke's opinion that the cosmic consciousness cannot be experienced after the age of thirty, or before one has reached that age. On the contrary, we know that this experience is one that can be prepared for, and induced, in people who have not attained that age, or who may be many years beyond it. Bucke's book is, nevertheless, a valuable contribution to the literature of wisdom, and may be read with profit by every student of these lessons. In William James' book, The Varieties of Religious Experience, is also to be found much information about superconsciousness.
A Gnani is a Yogi who develops superconsciousness by the method known as "union by means of knowledge". The work given in these lessons, particularly that part which deals with the Qabalah, or Secret Wisdom of Israel, is really a mode of Gnana Yoga.
William James emphasizes the important fact that superconsciousness is normal to human beings, and is accompanied, like all other states of mind, by specific brain-activities. This, to be sure, is no new knowledge. At least years before the Christian era, a Hindu writer, Patanjali, said: "Psychic and spiritual powers may be inborn, or they may be gained by the use of drugs, or by incantations, or by fervour, or by meditation". Here in America a number of persons have experienced superconsciousness as a result of inhaling laughing-gas.
William James has a good deal to say about this "anesthetic revelation". Similarly, throughout the Orient, and by some Western students, hashish has been used to open the gates to the influx of the consciousness beyond thought. The use of drugs, however, is unwise and unprofitable. It is a forcing process which usually does permanent injury to the delicate mechanism of the brain. Nevertheless, the fact that drugs do enable the brain to act for a time as the vehicle of superconsciousness demonstrates that this state is not a supernatural gift, is not outside the range of natural law, is not to be regarded as essentially different from any other state of consciousness.
It is experienced through the brain as a result of the functioning of certain specific groups of cells. The fact that some drugs induce such function is evidence, furthermore, that some subtle change in the blood chemistry contributes its part to the general physiological transformation necessary to the experience. It is our conviction that all Yoga practices do something to bring about this change in blood chemistry. Thus the word which is translated "fervour" in the foregoing quotation means "mortifications", and refers to various methods of body control, including fasting, abstention from certain kinds of food, and so on, which certainly have a definite bodily reaction.
All the methods of physical control grouped by Hindu writers under the general head of "Hatha Yoga" may be regarded as aiming at specific body-changes. These mortifications of the flesh range all the way from beneficial exercises which result in the perfect coordination of all the bodily functions to practices which Western minds regard as useless and revolting such as holding the arm in one position until it atrophies. We must remember, however, that such extremes of asceticism are by no means peculiar to the Orient.
In the lives of certain Christian mystics we may find the accounts of Oriental self-torture exactly duplicated.
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And as one writer has justly remarked, "One should not criticize such persons without a thorough knowledge of the subject. Such knowledge has not yet been published". At the same time, we shall do well to avoid imitating these extremes of asceticism. Incantations are not senseless, superstitious uses of language. They are, when rightly understood, means for utilizing the power of ideas in connection with sound vibration.
In that branch of ancient applied psychology which used to be called "magic", this scientific combination of ideas with sounds plays a great part. The affirmations and denials of which so much use is made today are only diluted applications of the same principle. The principle is familiar to every reader of these pages. It is the amenability of the subconsciousness to suggestion. The incantation, or "word of power", makes a mental pattern which the subconsciousness proceeds to build into physical structure and function.
By means of it, certain cell groups are modified, so that they can respond to the high rates of vibration which express themselves as superconsciousness. Meditation, by the same law of suggestion, also effects a change in cell structure. For just as self-consciousness must have its organs - the brain centers which distinguish man fiom the beasts - so must superconsciousness have its organs. In a rudimentary, or bud state, we have those organs now. By intensive use of practical methods which we have tried, and which have been tested by hundreds of others in past ages, we seek to enable earnest students to complete the organization of the cells whose office it is to translate the cosmic L.
It means literally, "illumination material". Its alchemical symbol is: C! The central part is a circle, representing the sun. The lower part is the cross of the four elements. The sun corresponds to what we have been calling selfconsciousness, and the moon is an emblem of the subconscious. Hence the Mercury symbol signifies the raising of the powers of the subconscious above those of self-consciousness. This is what happens when we become channels of superconsciousness. Whether by drugs, or by the power of words, by physical control, or by the practice of concentration and meditation, we modify subconsciousness in accordance with the law of suggestion.
Then the subconsciousness changes cell-structure, and enables us to experience superconsciousness. The Mercury symbol is open at the top, and this is exactly descriptive of the state of the man who has entered into the knowing beyond thought. He who does this seems to himself to be opened to an influx of light which enters his body at the top of his head. In this instance the seeming corresponds with fact, because the brain center which is the organ of superconsciousness is located in that position. Superconsciousness may also be represented by the sign employed by alchemists to designate the "element" of Air.
It is a yellow, upright, equilateral triangle with a cross-bar, thus: Superconsciousness corresponds also to the letter R in Ruach, because one of the attributions made by Qabalists to this letter is "Collective Intelligence", inasmuch as superconsciousness sums up, or collects, all the elements of the lower forms of consciousness. For example, past present and future are experienced in this state as an eternal Now, and there is a similar synthesis of space-relations. Again, Hebrew sages assign the Sun to R, and superconsciousness is sometimes termed "solar consciousness".
Those who use this term say that to be superconscious is to share the consciousness of the great Being whose physical body is the sun.
They regard the day-star as a great center of pulsating, vibrating, intelligent energy, which is not only the nucleus of this cosmic atom, our solar system, but is also the great center of all the various activities of consciousness which find expression in that system. Thus we may sum up our symbolic notation of superconsciousness by 9 ,sign of alchemical Mercury, A, symbol of Air, or Spirit, and by the letter R, representing the living light of our particular sun. Superconsciousness is indescribable, but concerning it some things are definitely known.
It is a consciousness of immortality, an experimental certainty that the cessation of the functions of the physical body is not the end of conscious existence. It is also a tremendous mental illumination. We find Dr. Bucke saying, "Among other things, he did not come to believe, he saw and knew that the Cosmos is not dead matter but a living Presence, that the soul of man is immortal, that the universe is so built and ordered that without any peradventure all things work together for the good of each and all, that the foundation principle of the world is what we call love and that the happiness of every one is in the long run absolutely certain He learned more within a few seconds during which the illumination lasted than in previous months or even years of study, and he learned much that no study could ever have taught".
In exactly the same strain Jacob Boehrne wrote, "The gate was opened to me that in one quarter of an hour I saw and knew more than if I had been many years together at a university". Bucke, Boehrne, and many other mystics belong to that class of beings of whom Patanjali says that their spiritual powers are inborn. As a result of work done in previous lives or, if you like, because of a certain inexplicable fineness of organization , they find themselves experiencing cosmic consciousness, usually at about the age of thirty.
Such gifted individuals need no lessons, no training. They ripen almost unconsciously into the experience of superconsciousness. As a rule they do not know just what has happened to them. Fortunately for us who are less gifted, but no less aspiring, the progress of the Ageless Wisdom through the centuries has accumulated a mass of experimental knowledge on this subject. It shows us how to hasten the ripening process, how to open the gate, how to build the Holy of Holies where the limitless Light shines into the temple of human personality.
This is not a work which ends with the personal satisfaction of the man who achieves the final result. Not only does he find a Way Out of this painful world painful because we may never rightly understand it by intellect alone , not only does he exchange the feeling that he is a being under sentence of death for the absolute certainty that he is immortal, not only does he have a flash of clairvoyance which enables him to read the heart of the cosmic life.
These are wonderhl attainments, but superconsciousness gives a man something more. It makes him a very dynamo of power, a radiant center of energy whose very presence is a blessing, whose touch heals, whose glance carries with it an electric flash of understanding which illuminates the minds of those who receive it. Even a flash of superconsciousness changes one forever; and when this experience is attained as a result of study and practice, so that it may be repeated several times in a single life, it makes one positively electric. Such a man will be a great worker. If you hear somebody claiming or hinting that he has experienced the higher consciousness, find out whether or not he is a man of deeds.
A true mystic is intensely energetic. Even when he is hampered as sometimes happens by a weak body, he usually does more work, in spite of his handicap, than two or three ordinary men. And he does it easily, too. It does not follow that he will be a man with a mission, although he will understand the mood which made Jesus say, "I must be about my Father's business". Certainly he will not try to reform the world by tinkering with the symptoms of the Great Disease.
His is a more radical treatment, for he will address himself to the removal of the root-cause of that ailment. He knows that all the evils which afflict us spring from want of love, that the germ of the Great Disease is the sense of separateness, and he will always be at work trying to overcome this fundamental delusion, trying to bring his fellow men together, binding up wounds, and healing differences.
Such a man cannot help lighting the world around him. His love and understanding include all creatures and things. Like St. Francis, he will preach to the birds, and he will see nothing fantastic in mental communication with the trees. Wherever he goes, men and women will feel the power of his presence, and will either be violently attracted by him, or else repelled by the force of the emanation of his personal atmosphere. This is why many superconscious men and women have suffered martyrdom. They radiate a high-tension current which inspires fear in grosser minds. They are great centers of force, and people who do not understand them mistrust this power they cannot comprehend.
But usually the martyrs of the higher consciousness are those into whose lives it has come spontaneously. People who have developed the higher order of knowing by conscious practice have more control over the current of light which flows through them, and are able to be less disturbing to their unripened neighbors. Want of space forbids a more extended consideration of this topic.
Just at present what you have to do is to fix in mind the terms and symbols we shall use to designate the three planes of consciousness. Study of the symbols of superconsciousness will show you that they all combine the ideas of reception and projection.