There are many ways in which the intuition can be drawn into activity, and one of the most useful and potent is the study and interpretation of symbols.
Symbols are the outer and visible forms of the inner spiritual realities, and when facility in discovering the reality behind any specific form has been gained, that very fact will indicate the awakening of the intuition.
First ray people belong to what is called the “Destroyer Ray” and the power of the first aspect, which is the power to bring to an end, flows through them. They will have a tendency to destroy, as they build, through a wrong direction of energy, through over-emphasis of energy in some particular direction, or through misuse of energy in work with themselves or others. Many first ray people have the tendency to pride themselves on this and hide behind a plea that, being upon the first ray, a destructive tendency is unavoidable. Such is not the case. Builders, such as second ray people always are, have to learn to destroy, when prompted by group love and acting under the Will or first ray aspect. Destroyers have to learn to build, acting ever under the impulse of group love and utilizing the power of attachment in a detached manner. Both groups, builders and destroyers, must ever work from the standpoint of reality, from the inner nucleus of truth and must “take their stand at the center.”
The study of symbols tends to bring this about and, when carried out with faithfulness and diligence, will produce three effects:
- It trains in the power to penetrate behind the form and to arrive at the subjective reality.
- It tends to bring about a close integration between soul-mind-brain, and when that is brought about, the inflow of the intuition and, consequently, of illumination and truth becomes more rapidly possible.
- It will put a strain upon certain unawakened areas in the brain and arouse into activity the brain cells there found, and this is the first stage in the experience of the aspirant. With the majority of true aspirants, the center between the eyebrows is awakened, whilst the center at the top of the head is vibrating very gently, but is not in full functioning activity. This higher center must be awakened more fully before aspirants can measure up to their full opportunity.
In the study of symbols, I would urge upon you the necessity always to put before yourselves the goal of arriving at the underlying concept of any symbol studied. This concept will ever be synthetic. It will not be detailed and in sections. You may have to arrive at this concept through a study of detail and through arriving at the significance of various sections or parts of the symbol under consideration. When, however, your analysis is completed, you must not rest satisfied until you have summed up the meaning of the symbol in some synthetic idea, concept, meaning or name.
Symbols have to be studied in three ways:
- Exoterically. This involves study of its form as a whole, of its lines, and therefore of its numerical significance, and also study of its sectional forms – by which I mean its arrangements, for instance, of cubes, triangles and of stars and their mutual interrelation.
- Conceptually. This involves arriving at its underlying idea, which may be expressed in its name; at its meaning as that emerges in the consciousness through meditation; and at its significance as a whole or in part. You should, when doing this, bear in mind that the idea connotes the higher or abstract intent; that the meaning is that intent expressed in terms of the concrete mind; and that its significance has in it more of an emotional quality and might be expressed as the type of desire it arouses in you.
- Esoterically. This would cover the effect of the force or energy upon you and of the quality of the vibration it may arouse in you perhaps in some center, perhaps in your astral body, or perhaps only in your mind.
This study, rightly undertaken, would lead to the unfoldment of the intuition, with its consequent manifestation on the physical plane as illumination, understanding and love.
In the first instance, the objective of the study of symbolism is to enable the student to sense its quality and to contact that vibrant something which lies behind that aggregate of line, color and form of which the symbol is composed.
To some types of people this study is relatively easy; to the majority it is not easy at all, thereby indicating a lack that must be supplied by the use of those faculties at the present dormant. It is always distasteful to arouse the latent faculties and requires an effort and a determination not to be swayed by personality reactions. To many it is not easily apparent how the penetration into the meaning of a symbol can provide a means whereby the dormant buddhic or intuitional faculty can be brought into functioning activity. It is a delicate art, this art of symbol reading, of “spiritual reading,” as our ancient master, Patanjali, calls it. This power to interpret symbols ever precedes true revelation. The comprehension of a truth for which a line or a series of lines composing a symbolic form may stand is not all that has to be done. A good memory may remind you that a series of lines forming a triangle or a series of triangles signifies the Trinity, or any series of triplicates within the macrocosmic or microcosmic manifestation. But that activity and accuracy of the memory will do naught to awaken the dormant brain cells or call into play the intuition. It must be remembered (and here becomes evident the value of a certain amount of technical or academic occultism) that the plane whereon the intuition manifests and where the intuitional state of consciousness is active is that of the buddhic or intuitional plane. This plane is the higher correspondence of the astral or emotional plane, the plane of sensitive awareness through a felt identification with the object of attention or attraction. It becomes evident therefore that if the intuitional faculty is to be brought into activity through the study of symbols, the student must feel with, or be in some way identified with, the qualitative nature of the symbol, with the nature of that reality which the symbolic form veils. It is this aspect of symbolic reading that you are asked to study.
Students should ascertain, therefore, after due study of the form aspect, what the symbol is doing to them, what feeling it evokes, what aspirations it arouses, and what dreams, illusions, and reactions are consciously registered. This stage is an intermediate one between the exoteric reading of a symbol and the conceptual understanding. There is later another intermediate stage between conceptual understanding and esoteric comprehension and application. This latter stage is called “synthetic recognition.” Having studied the form and become aware of its emotional significance, you pass to the stage of grasping the basic idea of the symbol, and from thence to a synthetic comprehension of its purpose. This leads to true esotericism which is the practical application of its living synthetic power to the springs of individual life and action.
I would ask you to render not only an intelligent interpretation of the symbol, but also a recognition of the more subtle reaction of your sensitive feeling nature to the symbol as a whole. Study a total of four symbols a year. First, approach the symbol from its form aspect and seek to familiarize yourself with its outer aspect, with the sumtotal of lines, triangles, squares, circles, crosses and other forms of which it is composed, and as you do this endeavor to comprehend it from the standpoint of the intellect, using your memory and what knowledge you have, to understand it exoterically.
Then as soon as the symbol is truly familiar to you and can be recalled to mind with little effort, endeavor to sense its quality, to contact its vibration and to note its emotional effect upon you. This may vary from day to day or it may always be the same. Be simply honest in your noting this astral reaction to the symbol and see where such reactions lead you, remembering always that they are not intuitional but are reactions to the feeling or astral body.
Finally, take note of what you have found to be, for you, the basic quality of the symbol and then (as in meditation work) lift the whole subject into the mental realm by bringing the focused attentive mind to bear upon it. This will lead you into the realm of concepts.