The web pulsates. It contracts and expands. Let the magician seize the midway point and thus release those “prisoners of the planet” whose note is right and justly tuned to that which must be made.
Interludes and Cycles
We now come to the four rules which concern the physical plane. In many ways their understanding is far more difficult than was the case in the other rules, in just the same way that practical application is far harder than theorizing. We can frequently think with clarity and desire rightly but the working out into physical plane manifestation of the subjective ideas, under law and constructively, is never an easy thing to do. It is however just at this point that a white magician begins to do his real work, and it is just here that he encounters failure and finds that his inner grasp of reality does not necessarily result in correct creative activity. In A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, there will be found certain points of interest for us to consider, and I would like to quote a few words from them:
“It might be useful here to remember that in the work of creation the white magician avails himself of the current ray influences. When the fifth, third and seventh rays are in power, either coming in, at full meridian, or passing out, the work is much easier than when the second, sixth or fourth are dominant. At the present time, the seventh ray, as we know is rapidly dominating, and it is one of the easiest of the forces with which man has to work. Under this ray it will be possible to build a new structure for the rapidly decaying civilization, and to erect the new temple desired for the religious impulse. Under its influence the work of the numerous unconscious magicians will be much facilitated.” Pages 1021-1022.
It is apparent therefore that the day of opportunity is with us, and that the coming generation can, if it so wishes, perform the magical work with many of the factors present which will tend to produce satisfactory results. The fifth ray is passing out, but its influence can still be felt; the third ray is at full meridian, and the seventh ray is rapidly coming into right activity. Much will consequently occur to make man successful, provided he can preserve constantly a right orientation, purity of motive and of life, a stabilized and receptive emotional body and that inner alignment which will make his personality a true vehicle for his soul or self.
A very interesting analogy works out as we study the words: “The web pulsates. It contracts and expands”. The underlying thought is that of pulsation, of diastole and systole, of ebb and flow, of cyclic activity, of the day of opportunity and the night of inactivity, of inflow and output, and of those many appearances and disappearances which mark the sweep of all lives in all kingdoms and dimensions. This day and night cycle which is the inevitable mark of manifested existence has to be recognized. One of the things which every disciple has to learn (putting the truth in the simplest terms) is to achieve that wisdom which is based on a knowledge of when to work and when to refrain, and on an understanding of those periods or interludes which are characterized by speech and by silence. It is here that mistakes are made and here that many workers fail to make good.
This entire rule might be given in the following paraphrase which will merit careful thought and which I will elucidate somewhat.
God breathes and His pulsating life emanates from the divine heart and manifests as the vital energy of all forms. It flows, pulsating in its cycles, throughout all nature. This constitutes the divine inhalation and exhalation. Between this breathing out and the breathing in comes a period of silence and the moment for effective work. If disciples can learn to utilize these interludes, they can then release the “prisoners of the planet,” which is the objective of all magical work, performed during this world period.
With the manner in which this One Life of the solar system works in these vast interludes of meditative silence, called technically a pralaya, we need not concern ourselves. The activity of the Universal Mind and its comprehensive purpose can only be perceived when each son of God enters consciously into his divine heritage. The mode of working by means of which our planetary Life utilizes the cycles of silence concerns Him alone, and it must be remembered that each planetary Logos has a different pulsation, a varying periodic interlude, and His Own unique method of procedure.
What does concern the student of these Instructions however is how he can himself attain a definite constructive activity in his interludes. These interludes, for the purpose of our discussion, fall into three categories:
1. Life interludes, or those periods wherein the spiritual man is out of incarnation and has withdrawn into the egoic consciousness. These, for the little evolved, are practically non-existent; they cycle in and out of incarnation with amazing rapidity. The physical plane analogy of this rapidity of activity is to be found in the intense rushing to and fro of the ordinary man as he meets the exigencies of existence and also in the difficulty he evidences in patience and in waiting and in achieving the meditative poise. As growth takes place, the periods of withdrawal from incarnation steadily lengthen, until the point is reached when the periods out of physical manifestation greatly exceed those spent in outer expression. Then the interlude dominates. The periods of outgoing (exhalation) and of inbreathing (inhalation) are relatively brief and – the point to be emphasized – these two periods are colored and controlled by the purposes of the soul, formulated and recorded on the mind during the interlude between the two more active stages of experience. The inner life, slowly developed during the cyclic interludes, becomes the dominating factor. The man gradually becomes subjective in his attitude and the physical plane expression is primarily then the result of the inner thought life and not so much the result of reaction to physical plane occurrences and the restlessness of the desire nature.
2. The ebb and flow of daily life during a particular incarnation will also demonstrate its interludes, and these the aspirant has to learn to recognize and to utilize. He has to register the distinction between intense outgoing activity, periods of withdrawal, and interludes wherein the outer life seems static and free from active interest. This he must do if he is to avail himself fully of the opportunity which life experience is intended to furnish. The whole of life is not concentrated in one furious continuous stretch of rushing forth to work, nor is it comprehended in one eternal siesta. It has normally its own rhythmic beat and vibration and its own peculiar pulsation. Some lives change their rhythm and mode of activity every seven years; others alter every nine or eleven years. Still others work under shorter cycles and have months of strenuous endeavor followed by months of apparent non-effort. Some people again are so sensitively organized that, in the midst of work, events and circumstances are so staged that they are forced into a temporary retirement wherein they assimilate the lessons learnt during the preceding period of work.
Two groups of human beings work with apparently no physical plane ebb and flow, but manifest steadily an urge to work. These are people who are so little evolved and so low down (if one might thus express it) on the ladder of evolution and so predominantly animal that there is no mental reaction to circumstances but simply a response to the call of physical needs, and the use of time for the satisfaction of desire. This never lets up and therefore there is little that can be called cyclic in their expression. They include the unthinking toiler and the uncivilized man. Then there are those men and women who are on the opposite scale, and have climbed relatively high on the ladder of progress. These are so emancipated from the purely physical and are so aware of the nature of desire that they have learnt to preserve a continuous activity – based on discipline and service. They work consciously with cycles and understand somewhat their nature. They know the divine art of abstracting their consciousness into that of the soul in contemplation and can control and wisely guide their work in the world of men. This is the lesson which all disciples are learning and this is the high achievement of the initiates and trained workers of the race.
3. The third type of interlude, and the one with which we are here primarily concerned as we consider the magical work on the physical plane, is the interlude achieved and utilized during the meditation process. With this the student must familiarize himself, for otherwise he will be unable to work with power. This interlude or period of intense silence differentiates itself into two parts:
There is first of all the interlude which we call contemplation. I would remind you of the definition given in a book by Evelyn Underhill which describes contemplation as “an interlude between two activities”. This period of silence succeeds upon the activity (found so difficult by the beginner) of making the alignment between soul-mind-brain, of quieting the emotional body, and of achieving that concentration and meditation which will serve to focus and reorient the mind upon a new world, and place it within the sphere of influence of the soul. It is analogous to the period of inhalation. In this cycle, the outgoing consciousness is gathered in and lifted up.
When success crowns this effort, the consciousness then slips out of what we call the personality, the mechanism aspect, and becomes a changed consciousness. The soul on its own plane becomes active and of this activity the mind and brain are aware. From the standpoint of personality activity, an interlude takes place. There is a point of inspired waiting. The mechanism is entirely quiescent. The mind is held steady in the light and the soul in the meantime thinks, as is its habit, in unison with all souls, taps the resources of the Universal Mind, and formulates its purposes in line with the universal plan. This cycle of recorded soul activity is followed by what might be called the process of exhalation. The interlude comes to an end; the waiting mind again becomes active and in so far as it has been rightly oriented and held in a purely receptive attitude, it becomes the interpreter and instrument of the soul, which has now turned the “light of its countenance upon the attentive personality”. Through that medium it can now work out the plans formulated in the interlude of contemplation. The emotional nature is swept by desire to make objective the plans with which the reoriented mind seeks to color its experience, and subsequently the brain receives the transmitted impression and the physical plane life is then adjusted so that those plans can properly materialize. This of course delineates a mechanism, trained and adjusted and rightly responsive – a rare thing indeed to find. The second part of the interlude only becomes possible when the first or contemplative interlude has been achieved.
The disciple who is seeking to cooperate with the Hierarchy of Masters and to manifest this cooperation by active participation in Their work on the physical plane has to learn to work not only through the contemplative realization but through a scientific utilization of the interludes, developed in breathing, between points of inhalation and exhalation in the purely physical sense of the term. This is the true science and objective of pranayama. The brain consciousness is necessarily involved. The interlude between breaths is only capable of right use when a man has achieved the power to follow the interlude of contemplation affecting the soul and the mind and the brain. Just as the mind has been held in the light and has been receptive to the soul impression so the brain has to be held receptive to impression from the mind.
One interlude therefore (from the standpoint of the unified soul and personality) takes place after the period of soul inhalation, when the outgoing consciousness has been gathered inward, and the other takes place at the close of that interlude when the soul again becomes out going consciously to the objective world; exhalation takes the place of inhalation and also has its interlude. The disciple has to learn facility in utilizing these two soul interludes – one of which produces effects upon the mind, and the other upon the brain.
There is, as always, a physical plane analogy of this process of divine inhalation and exhalation with its two interludes of silence and of thought. Let me again reiterate the consequences of these interludes. In the higher interlude, abstract or divine thought impresses the soul and is transmitted to the waiting mind; in the other, the mind, through concrete thought and an attempt to embody divine thought in form, impresses the brain and produces action through the medium of the physical body.