In this section of our discussion we shall give less time to the consideration of illusion than we shall to that of glamor, or of maya. Illusion is not met squarely, faced and overcome until a man has:
- Shifted the focus of his consciousness on to the mental plane.
- Worked definitely at the task of intelligent service.
- Made his soul alignment consciously and easily, and firmly established his technique of contact.
- Taken the first initiation.
The word illusion is frequently lightly used to signify lack of knowledge, unsettled opinions, glamor, misunderstandings, psychic bewilderment, the dominance of the lower psychic powers, and many other forms of the world illusion. But the time has come when the word must be used with a developed discriminating sense, and when the disciple must know clearly and comprehend the nature of that phenomenal miasma in which humanity moves. For the purposes of clarity and in order to distinguish more definitely and effectively between the forms of illusion in which the soul moves, and from which it must liberate itself, it will be necessary for us to separate the Great Illusion (in its various aspects) into its component parts in time and space, and this I attempted partially to do when I defined for you the words Maya, Glamor, Illusion, and the Dweller on the Threshold. I want you to keep very clearly in your mind these distinctions, and to study with care the tabulation earlier given you.
Illusion, for our purposes, can be understood to signify the reaction of the undisciplined mind to the newly contacted world of ideas. This contact opens up from the moment a man has aligned himself and brought the lower nature into touch with the higher. Ideas come to us from the plane of the intuition. The soul illumines the plane of the mind and the plane of the intuition so that they stand revealed to each other and their mutual relationship becomes then apparent. The mind of the man (which is slowly becoming the center of his consciousness and the major reality in his existence) becomes aware of this new and undiscovered world of ideas and he seizes upon some idea or group of ideas and endeavors to make them his own. At first, with the majority of people and especially with the average mystical type, the appreciation of ideas is vague and nebulous, and frequently is arrived at from a second-hand angle. The illumination, coming through the medium of the feebly established soul contact, seems to the unaccustomed neophyte to be of a supreme wonder and of vital moment. The ideas contacted appear to him of great marvel, and superbly unusual, and vitally needed by humanity.
But the mind is still self-centered, the contact feeble and the alignment uncertain. The ideas are therefore only dimly sensed. But the uniqueness of the experience in the realized content of the mind of the disciple leads him deep into the realm of illusion. The idea, or ideas, which he has contacted are, if he could realize, only a fragment of a far greater Whole. That which he brings to their interpretation is inadequate. The idea which has emerged in his consciousness, through the partial awakening of his intuition, will be distorted in its descent to his brain consciousness in several ways. That which he brings to the materializing of the idea and to its transformation into a practical working scheme is as yet wholly unsuitable. The equipment does not suffice for accuracy. The ways in which this distortion and this stepping down of the idea take place might be outlined for you as follows.
The passage of an idea from the plane of the intuition to the brain.
- The idea is seen by the mind, “held steady in the light of the soul.”
- It descends to the higher levels of the mental plane and there clothes itself with the substance of those levels. It remains still an abstraction, from the angle of the lower mind. This point should be carefully noted by the would-be intuitive.
- The soul throws its light upward and outward, and the idea, nebulous and faint, emerges into the consciousness of the man. It stands revealed, much as an object stands revealed when the bright beam of a powerful searchlight is thrown upon it. The mind, endeavoring to remain in constant steady conscious contact with the soul, seeing into the higher world through the medium of the “soul’s wide-opened eye,” registers the idea with increasing clarity.
- The idea, revealed, becomes then an ideal to the attentive mind and eventually something to be desired and materialized. The thought-form-making faculty of the mind then comes into play; the “mind-stuff” becomes actuated by the energy of the idea, vitalized by the recognition of the soul, and the idea then takes its first real step towards embodiment. An ideal is only an embodied idea.
These are the first steps towards materialization. Embodiment becomes possible. Thus illusion is produced.
- Distortion now sets in. This is brought about by various causes. These might be enumerated as follows:
- The ray type of the ego colors the man’s interpretation of the idea. It colors the emerging thought-form. Symbolically speaking, the pure light is changed into colored light. The idea is then “clothed with color, and thereby the first veil descends.”
- The point in evolution which the man has reached has also its effect, plus the quality of the integration existing between the three aspects of the personality, and the alignment established between soul-mind-brain. This, being necessarily imperfect, produces indefiniteness of outline and consequently of the final form. Therefore we have:
- Imperfect integration of the personality.
- Indefiniteness of the proposed thought-form.
- The wrong material consequently attracted for the building of the thought-form.
- A shifting focus of attention, owing to the dimness of the seen ideal.
- The rapport of the mind, with the sensed idea, is not stable.
- The quality of the development of the mental body of the disciple produces the next “veiling” of the idea, as it is called. The idea has become changed through the ray coloring of the soul, and now a still more distorting change is brought about by the ray type of the mental body itself, which may be, and usually is, different to that of the soul ray.
These are the second steps towards materialization. The form of the embodiment is qualified. Thus illusion is produced.
- This illusion demonstrates in seven ways usually:
1. Through wrong Perception of an Idea.
The disciple cannot distinguish between an idea and an ideal, between an idea and a thought-form, or between an intuitive and a mental concept. This is one of the ways of producing illusion found most commonly among aspirants. The mental atmosphere in which we all dwell is one of illusion. It is also an atmosphere or area of conscious contact wherein thought-forms of all kinds are to be found. Some of them are placed there by the Hierarchy for man’s finding; some of them are men’s thought-forms, built around ideas; some of them are very ancient ideals and have been discarded, but still persist as thought-forms; some of them are entirely new, and therefore are not yet potent, but most attractive. All of them have been created by man at some stage or another of his individual and racial development. Many of them are the shells of long exploded concepts; still others are embryonic; some of them are static and stable; many are in process of descent from intuitional levels; a few are still illumined by the clear light of the soul and are ready for embodiment. A large number of other thought-forms are in process of disintegration. Some of these forms or embodied ideas are of a destructive nature, owing to the type of matter of which they are formed. Others are constructive. All of them are colored by some ray energy. A large number of these forms are necessarily built through the activity of the world of personality; others are in process of construction through the agency of the soul, as well as through the joint activity of both these manifestations. Right perception is therefore essential for each mind, functioning correctly. Aspirants must learn to distinguish between:
- An idea and an ideal.
- Between that which is embodied, that which is in process of being embodied, and that which is awaiting disintegration.
- Between that which is constructive and that which is destructive.
- Between the old and the new forms and ideas.
- Between the ray ideas and forms as they color the higher presentations.
- Between ideas and thought-forms, and between those which are purposely created by the Hierarchy and those which are created by humanity.
- Between racial thought-forms and group ideas.
I could list many more differentiations, but the above will suffice to show the need for right perceptions, and to indicate the roots of the prevalence of the world illusion, brought about by wrong perception.
- The cause is an untrained, unillumined mind.
- The cure is training in the technique of Raja Yoga.
This results in the ability to hold the mind steady in the light, to perceive correctly, to achieve a right outlook, and to attain a right mental attitude. It was these right attitudes with which the Buddha was dealing when He outlined the Noble Eightfold Path. It involves the reaching of a right mental altitude. Yes, I said altitude, my brothers, and not attitude.
2. Through wrong Interpretation.
The idea, a vital entity or a germ of living potency, is seen through the medium of a partial view, distorted through the inadequacy of the mental equipment, and frequently stepped down into futility. The mechanism for right understanding is lacking, and though the man may be giving his highest and his best, and though he may be able in some measure to hold his mind steady in the light, yet what he is offering to the idea is but a poor thing at the best. This leads to illusion through misinterpretation.
- The cause is an over-estimation of one’s mental powers. The sin, par excellence, of the mental type is pride, and that colors all activities in the early stages.
- The cure is the development of a cautious spirit.
3. Through wrong Appropriation of Ideas.
Misappropriation of an idea is based upon the drama-making faculty and tendency of the personality to the self-assertion of the little self. These lead a man to appropriate an idea as his own, to credit himself with its formulation, and to give therefore undue importance to it, because he regards it as his. He proceeds to build his life around his idea, and to make his aims and his objectives of major importance, expecting others to recognize his proprietorship of the idea. He forgets that no one idea belongs to anyone but, coming as ideas do, from the plane of the intuition, they are a universal gift and possession, and the property of no one mind. His life, as a personality also, becomes subordinated to his idea of an idea, and his ideal of an idea. The idea becomes the dramatic agent of his self-imposed life purpose, driving him from one extreme to another. This leads to illusion through misappropriation.
- The cause is over-estimation of personality and undue impress of personality reactions upon the sensed idea and upon all who attempt to contact the same idea.
- The cure is a steady attempt to decentralize the life from the personality, and to center it in the soul.
One point I would like to make clear at this point. Ideas very seldom come into the world consciousness and into the human mind direct from the intuitional levels. The stage of human development today does not yet permit this. They can come from the intuitional levels only when there is a very highly developed soul contact, a potent mind control, a trained intelligence, a purified emotional body, and a good glandular equipment, as the result of the above requirements. Ponder upon this thought.
Most ideas, when of a very high order, are stepped down into the consciousness of a disciple by his Master and are imparted to him through mental telepathy, and as a result of his sensitivity to the “psychic gift waves,” as the Tibetan teaching calls them. Ideas are also sensed in the interplay between disciples. Frequently, when disciples meet together and thus stimulate each others’ minds and centralize each others’ focused attention, they can untidily make a contact with the world of ideas which would otherwise be impossible, and bring through the newer concepts into being. Again, certain great ideas are to be found existing as currents of energy upon the mental plane, and can there be contacted and forced into embodiment through the trained attention of disciples. These currents of mental energy, colored by a basic idea, are placed there by the Hierarchy. When thus contacted and discovered, the neophyte is apt to regard his achievement in a personal way and attribute the idea to his own wisdom and power. You will note therefore the great need for right understanding of that which is contacted as well as for right interpretation.
4. Through wrong Direction of Ideas.
This is due to the fact that, as yet, the disciple does not see the picture as it is. His horizon is limited, his vision myopic. A fraction or a fragment of some basic idea impinges upon his consciousness and he interprets it as belonging to a range of activities with which it may have absolutely no relation at all. He therefore starts to work with the idea, distributing it in directions where it is entirely useless; he begins to clothe it in form from an utterly wrong angle, embodying it in such a way that its usefulness is negated. Thus, from the very first moment of contact, the disciple has been suffering from illusion and as long as this is persisted in, the general illusion is strengthened. This is one of the most ordinary forms of illusion, and is one of the first ways in which the mental pride of the disciple can be broken. It is illusion through an initial misapplication, leading to a wrong use or wrong direction of the idea.
- Its cause is a small and non-inclusive mind.
- Its cure is the training of the mind to be inclusive, well-stocked and well developed from the angle of modern intelligence.
5. Through wrong Integration of an Idea.
Every disciple has a life plan, and some chosen field of service. If he has not such a field, he is not a disciple. It may be the home or the school or a larger field, but it is a definite place wherein he expresses that which is in him. In his meditation life and through his contact with his fellow disciples, he touches some idea of importance, perhaps, to the world. Immediately he seizes upon it and seeks to integrate it into his life purpose and life plan. It may have for him no definite use, and is not an idea with which he should be working. The over-activity of his mind is probably responsible for his so seizing upon this idea. All ideas sensed and contacted need not necessarily be ideas with which every disciple should work. This the disciple does not always realize. He therefore seizes upon the idea and attempts to integrate it into his plans, and tries to work with energies for which he is not temperamentally suited. He imposes an energy current upon his mental body with which he cannot cope and disaster follows. Many good disciples demonstrate this over-fertile, over-active mind, and arrive at no good constructive objectives, or life activity. They seize upon every idea that comes their way, and use no discrimination of any kind. This is illusion, through acquisitiveness.
- Its cause is selfish grasping for the little self, even if this is unrealized and the disciple is glimmered by the idea of his own selfless interests.
- Its cure is a humble spirit.
6. Through wrong Embodiment of Ideas.This refers primarily to the difficulties encountered by those developed souls who do touch the world of the intuition, who do intuit the great spiritual ideas, and whose responsibility it is to embody them in some form, automatically and spontaneously, through a trained and rhythmic activity of the soul and mind, working always in the closest collaboration. The idea is contacted, but is wrongly clothed in mental matter and therefore wrongly started on its way to materialization. It finds itself, for instance, integrated into a group thought-form of a coloring, keynote and substance which is entirely unsuited to its right expression. This happens far more often than you might think. It concerns the higher interpretations of the Hindu aphorism: Better one’s own dharma than the dharma of another.
This is illusion through wrong discrimination where substance is concerned.
- Its cause is lack of esoteric training in creative activity.
- Its cure is the application of fifth ray methods, which are the methods of the mental plane.
This form of error seldom applies to the average aspirant and concerns an illusion which is the testing applied to many initiates of fairly high degree. The ordinary disciple, such as you and others in this group, seldom touch a pure idea, and hence seldom need to embody it.
7. Through wrong Application of Ideas.How often does this form of illusion descend upon a disciple! He contacts an idea intuitively and also intelligently (note the distinction here expressed) and misapplies it. This is perhaps an aspect of the synthetic illusion or the illusion of the whole of the mental plane, as modern man contacts it. Illusion varies from age to age, according to what the Hierarchy is attempting to do, or according to the general trend of men’s thoughts. The disciple can therefore be swept into a wrong activity and a wrong application of ideas because the general illusion (growing out of the six types of illusion to which I have referred above) is over-dominant in his mind.
I could continue enlarging on the ways whereby illusion traps the unwary disciple but this will suffice to awaken in you that constructive analysis which leads from knowledge to wisdom. We have noted that the seven major ways of illusion are as follows:
- The way of wrong perception.
- The way of wrong interpretation.
- The way of wrong appropriation.
- The way of wrong direction.
- The way of wrong integration.
- The way of wrong embodiment.
- The way of wrong application.
These are the third steps towards expression. The form of the expression is also qualified. Thus the seven ways of illusion are produced.