We have consequently the following stages in the analysis of a symbol:
- Its exoteric consideration: line, form and color.
- A comprehension in the astral or emotional body of its quality, the reaction of a sensitive response to the impact of its qualitative nature.
- A conceptual consideration of its underlying idea, of what it is intended to teach, of the intellectual meaning it is intended to convey.
- The stage of the synthetic grasp of the purpose of a symbol, of its place in an ordered manifesting plan, of its true unified intent.
- Identification with the quality and purpose of the symbol as it is illuminated by the mind “held steady in the light.” This final stage brings into activity the brain as well as the mind.
The study of symbols viewed as a whole, involves three stages:
- • First, the investigation of a symbol, and the consequent progress of the analyst from one progressive stage of awareness to another, to a gradual inclusion of the entire field covered by the symbol.
- • Secondly, an intuitive perception of the symbols to be seen everywhere in the divine manifestation.
- • Third, the use of symbols on the physical plane, and their right adaptation to a seen and recognized purpose, leading to the subsequent magnetization of the symbol with the needed quality through which the idea can make its presence felt, in order that the intuited qualified idea may find proper form on the physical plane.
Deal, therefore, with the symbols in a wide generalization, exoteric, conceptual and esoteric, but add to that an analysis of your sensitivity and response to the quality of the symbol.
Let me recapitulate for a moment. First of all it is valuable to remember that the study of the symbol exoterically involves the use of the brain and the memory. You endeavor to study line and form, number and general external aspects, knowing that each line has significance, all numbers have their interpretation and all forms are symbols of an inner quality and life.
The study of symbols conceptually carries you inward from the brain to the mind, into the realm of ideas. It sweeps into focused activity the mental apparatus. You then become aware of the concept or idea which the sign or symbol embodies. You comprehend its meaning and for what it stands. You grasp the purpose for which the form has been brought into manifestation. Your study of number and of line has given you a rich background of knowledge upon the objective plane – a richness in this case dependent upon your own personal reading, mental equipment and knowledge. Your capacity to read a “meaning” into a symbol will be dependent also upon the richness of the meaning you ascribe to the events of your daily life, and your ability to really meditate.
I would like to make clear to you that there is no set interpretation of any symbol, and that for each human being that symbol – whatever it may be – will convey unique meaning. A lack of interest in symbols presupposes usually a lack of interest in the due interpretation of life forms and their meaning. Also, too much academic interest in symbols may presuppose a tortuous and intricate mind which loves design and line and form and numerical relationships, but which misses entirely the significance of meaning. The balancing in the mind of form and concept, of expression and quality, of sign and meaning is vital to the growth of the disciple and the aspirant.
The great need for most students is to arrive at meaning and to work with ideas and concepts. This activity will necessitate the use of the mind to understand, to grasp and to interpret. It requires the development of that mental sensitivity which will enable its possessor to respond to the vibrations of what we call the Universal Mind, the Mind of God, the Instigator of the Plan. It presupposes a certain ability to interpret and the power to express the idea underlying the symbol so that others may share it with you. This thought of service and of growth in usefulness must be steadily borne in mind.
Can you not see how this power to study, to interpret and to penetrate to meaning will further your growth spiritually ? Can you believe that through the use of this method you may learn to work more intelligently with the Plan and become a better helper of your fellowman?
What is there in this objective world that is not the inadequate symbol of a divine idea? What have we in our outer manifestation but the visible sign (at some stage of the evolving purpose) of the plan of the creating Deity? What are you yourself but the outer expression of a divine idea? We must learn to see symbols all around us and then to penetrate behind the symbol to the idea which it should express.
There is however a technique of study which may be of service to you as you attempt to arrive at an idea and thus study conceptually the many symbols by which we are surrounded. It is largely the technique for which meditation should have prepared you. The difference between this technique and meditation work is mainly one of polarization and goal. In the study of symbols conceptually, the consciousness is polarized in the mental body, and no attempt is definitely made to contact or involve the soul or ego. Herein lies the distinction between this second stage of symbol interpretation and ordinary meditation. You have exhausted the method of familiarizing yourself with the form aspect of the symbol, and you know well its outer contour and externalization. You know too that a peculiar series of lines (such as, for instance, the three lines forming a triangle) represent such and such an idea or truth or teaching. This is recorded in your brain, drawing on the resources of your memory. The registering of old information and knowledge anent the figures in a symbol serves to pull your consciousness up on to the mental plane and to focus it there in the world of ideas or of concepts. The concepts exist already upon the concrete levels of the mental plane. They are your mental and racial heritage and are ancient mental forms which you can now employ in order to arrive at meaning and significance.
It is an ancient statement of fact, which Plutarch expresses for us in the familiar words, that “An idea is a Being incorporeal, which has no subsistence of itself, but gives figure and form unto shapeless matter and becomes the cause of the manifestation.” The figure and form you have registered with your brain and memorized, and likewise its activity in time and space, along with its innate capacity to build the form and express through that form a concept or idea. As you work inwards, you are also becoming aware of the nature of the motivating idea through the study of its form and its demonstrated activity, and you are discovering the field of ideas of analogous nature in which the idea embodied in the symbol finds itself. This field of ideas, interrelated and mutually explanatory, is now open to you and you will increasingly find yourself in a position to move in this world of concepts with freedom. To work and live in the world of ideas now becomes your objective and main effort. You train yourself in the recognition of ideas and concepts as they lie behind every form; you begin to think clearly about them and to see the direction in which they lead you and where, within the Eternal Plan, they fit.
If aspirants will do three things:
- Develop the power to visualize,
- Train the mind to intuit reality,
- Rightly interpret that which is seen,
they can provide a demonstrating laboratory for the trained Observers of the world.
One of the things which the developed intuition can do is to break the glamor and illusion which invade the life. One of the things that a group of aspirants, whose intuitional interplay is established, can accomplish, is to aid in the work of smashing world glamor. Such work can be done when you have awakened the intuition, and when your interrelated understanding is firm and true. The Hierarchy will be able to use the world aspirants as an instrument for the breaking of group glamor wherever it may be found. I refer to this possibility in order to incite you all to more rapid and steady growth and effort.
You have been told that one of the needs lying before all aspirants is to arrive at that intuitional knowledge and that intelligent understanding of glamor, both individual and planetary, which will enable them most definitely to work at its dispelling. That understanding will necessarily be only relative, but in the course of the next few years, your knowledge of the subject and of the methods whereby glamor can be dissipated can be materially increased. This must happen if you work at the problem consciously in your own lives, and attempt to grasp the underlying theory also.