The Door to the Way of the Higher Evolution
I write now for those initiates who have taken the third initiation, whose personality is soul-dominated and who “walk ever in the light.” It will therefore be obvious that there is relatively little that I can say at this point which will be comprehensible, as far as the true meaning goes, to you who have not as yet achieved that state. The key to your understanding lies in the realization that our seven planes are only the seven subplanes of the cosmic physical plane, and that all that now transpires in the life of the initiate simply releases him from physical experience (technically physical, even on the atmic, monadic and logoic planes), into that vortex of force which we know and understand as Love, or onto the cosmic astral plane. The note, the quality and the influence of the cosmic astral plane is love – the higher correspondence of emotion as experienced upon the astral plane of the planetary or solar manifestation. It is therefore to be realized that the Hierarchy is definitely under the impact of energies emanating from the cosmic astral plane, whilst Shamballa reacts to influences coming from the cosmic mental plane. The related stream of energy can therefore be seen to be from:
- The cosmic astral plane.
- The solar buddhic plane, reflected in our planetary buddhic plane.
- The astral plane, the plane of glamor in the three worlds.
In relation to the mind, you have:
- The cosmic mental plane.
- The solar atmic plane, reflected in our planetary atmic plane.
- The mental plane, the plane of illusion.
In connection with the references to glamor and illusion, (see Glamor: a World Problem) it must be borne in mind that the reason glamor predominates and illusion functions in the three worlds is due to the fact that men identify themselves with the dense physical brain, and interpret life in terms of experience in the three worlds. There is no true astral plane, from the angle of personality identifications, but only what might be regarded as the figments of the imagination; yet fundamentally and substanding what we know as the astral plane is the reflection of the cosmic principle of love. However, being essentially a reflection, it lacks basic reality from the angle of the true disciple and must be ignored as an expression of fundamental truth; at the same time, the astral plane exists from the angle of the Master, because it is an expression in dense physical cosmic substance of cosmic love. Its potency is, however, so great that it produces glamor in those who are not yet liberated. Students should remember that focused power produces glamor where wrong identification is involved, but only reality and truth where there is freedom from the factor of form life. Therefore, temporarily, there is no astral plane for the disciple who is withdrawing identification; there is a field of service for the Master Who has no longer the power to identify His consciousness with anything in the three worlds; He can, however, relate cosmic sources with planetary and solar expressions of energy.
As we study the whole subject of initiation and the advanced initiations, it will be found necessary to remember always the relation of our seven planes to the cosmic range of planes. It is necessary also to bear in mind a fact oft forgotten, but which has been known and taught ever since modern occultism began to influence human thinking: the four planes which connote the highest possible spiritual influences, as far as humanity is concerned, are only – in the last analysis – the four etheric subplanes of the cosmic physical plane. These highest planes of our planetary life are, therefore, the source of all energy and all originating activity in our entire planetary expression and experience. These four planes are (as you already know):
- The highest plane – (Adi Life – Logoic plane – 1st aspect – Will
- The monadic plane – Human monads – Universal – 2nd aspect – Love
- The atmic plane – 3rd aspect – Intelligence
- The buddhic plane – Pure reason – Intuition
This 4th or buddhic is a fusion of 2 and 3, of love and intelligence, and produces understanding and intuitive perception.
All influences and energies, therefore, which are prevalent in our planetary existence, flow through and create the four above mentioned planes and thus determine the nature of the evolutionary process at any given time in the three worlds. From the standpoint of a Master, the four planes are composed of forces which are basically responsive to, and finally conditioned by, the energies wielded by the Hierarchy and directed by Shamballa. In a peculiar manner, and under the Law of Correspondences, the three lower planes – mental, emotional and physical – constitute the three dense physical subplanes of the cosmic physical plane and are not, consequently, regarded as embodying principles. H.P.B. says, in connection with our physical plane (the lowest subplane of the cosmic physical plane), that it is not a principle, and this holds good also for the greater whole. The dense physical plane is matter conditioned by a previous solar system, and is almost automatic in its response to etheric energies; these constitute the etheric bodies of all forms created out of this “unprincipled substance,” as it is occultly called.
The three lower planes of our seven planes are, from the angle of the esotericist, the equally unprincipled dense cosmic substance; the mark or indication of the true initiate is the transfer of his life and his point of identification from unprincipled substance and substantial forms to “principled” substance and etheric forms. The tendency of the occult student to think ever in terms of spiritual abstraction can (and often does) militate against a grasp of the truth and presents a false picture to the intelligence; the facts which I have just emphasized have much to do with the nature of the higher initiations. I would ask you to remember this.
The third initiation, therefore, releases the initiate from the planes of unprincipled substance (the lower subplanes of the cosmic physical plane), whilst the next two initiations make it possible for him to work with intelligence and love on the two lower levels of the cosmic etheric plane – the buddhic and the atmic, the planes of spiritual love and intelligent will. The Way of the Higher Evolution leads through the monadic and logoic planes (the two highest levels of the cosmic physical plane); when the four planes of the cosmic etheric plane are completely mastered and under occult direction, the initiate is faced with the seven Paths and with the choice to tread one or other of them. His choice is naturally dependent upon ray determinations and past activity but is nevertheless a free choice, because all limitation has been removed, all wrong identification with physical forms is now impossible, and the initiate’s only limitation is that imposed by entrance into cosmic levels of awareness with which he is still unfamiliar. Bear, therefore, continually in mind that the highest spiritual attainment upon and within the seven planes of our recognized planetary life is entirely conditioned by the fact that they are the seven subplanes of the cosmic physical plane and are composed of the three dense physical planes (our three worlds of human evolution) and the four cosmic etheric planes (the four levels of so-called spiritual development); these are conditioned by three forces and four energies. I have emphasized this by constant repetition on account of the great importance the recognition of these facts will play in any grasp you may achieve anent the Way of the Higher Evolution.
After the Master has taken the fifth initiation, He has – as you know – covered and mastered the ordinary field of evolution for humanity; that means the three worlds of ordinary human experience and the two worlds of superhuman effort, making the five fields of the spiritual activity of man. Love and intelligence are now perfectly developed in Him, though their expression and emphasis may vary according to His rays; He is aware of the fact of the Will or of the first divine aspect, with its two qualities (veiling a third) of destruction and of purpose; He is becoming active on the second plane of our planetary life, the monadic plane, and that great center of life, Shamballa, is having a definite vibratory effect upon Him; also (and this will be incomprehensible to you) He is becoming sensitive to a range of energies and influences which can now be registered by Him, owing to His increasing monadic polarization and His contact with Shamballa.
The cosmic astral plane becomes, for the Master, a definite objective; He is beginning to develop a great sensitivity to that level of awareness, but consciousness of that within the planetary life – as He knows it – prevents Him from registering this energy of pure cosmic love as He later will. It is this sense of limitation which is the cause of His recognition of the Door on to the Way of the Higher Evolution, for the fifth and sixth initiations liberate Him into the atmic and monadic states of awareness; these initiations are to the initiate at this stage of development what the first and second initiations are to the disciple who is seeking to tread the earlier stages of the Path of Initiation. They might therefore be regarded as initiations of the threshold – one leading to the awareness of the higher levels of conscious unfoldment which the third initiation (the first major initiation) inaugurates, and the other to those levels of impression, of contact and of future ascension which are the sevenfold goal set before the Master when the sixth initiation (the true ascension) is consummated. It is for this reason that this particular initiation is called the Initiation of Decision. The Master then chooses which of the seven Ways or Paths He will follow, because His aeonial experience has enabled Him to choose any of them and know that He has chosen aright. Though these seven Paths, being one of the septenates, are necessarily related to the seven rays, they are not ray paths, nor are they governed by the seven rays. Any one of them is open to a Master of the Wisdom, and His choice will not be dependent upon His ray type, though He will take that factor into consideration. They are more definitely related to the seven cosmic planes than to the seven rays; this we will consider in greater detail when dealing with the factor of the seven Ashrams which are “proving” grounds for all the Masters confronted with the Initiation of Decision.
Disciples are more apt to be interested in the Ashrams from the angle of their own development; they are not prone to remember that the life progress and purpose of the Master not only determines the quality of the Ashram but that His own development and His eventual decisions are closely related to the Ashram which He controls. It is not easy for students to shift their attention away from the relation of the Ashram to humanity as a whole, or to realize that this relation is secondary to the Master Whose primary preoccupation is the unfoldment of the purposes of Sanat Kumara and the attainment of that state of Being which is significant of Shamballa. Students need to bear in mind that one phase of preparation for future work is that which will succeed the Initiation of Decision, and that this is dependent upon the type, quality and service rendered by the Master as He conditions and controls His Ashram. This I will attempt to enlarge upon under our next heading. It is useful however, for aspirants to discipleship, and above all for those preparing for initiation and consequently already working in an Ashram, to get this different point of view and begin to unfold within themselves a new sensitivity to impression coming from sources higher than the Hierarchy itself. This involves in them a new and higher type of orientation, and though it remains as yet impossible of attainment there is definite developing value in a grasp of the concept and the effort of the abstract mind and the intuitive perception to seize upon and reflect upon a new and entirely foreign concept. This higher reflective process is to the disciple who is working in an Ashram what aspiration is to the student upon the Probationary Path and the early stages of the Path of Discipleship.
In the latter case, the aspirant’s emotional body becomes responsive to the principle of buddhi, reaching him via the love petals of the egoic lotus; in the more exalted situation, the disciple becomes aware (for that is all it is) of the possibility of an impression reaching him from the cosmic astral plane, via monadic levels of awareness. Note what I say – simply the possibility; for there is at this stage no assured recognition of this goal; it is an impression which is to the disciple preparing for one of the higher initiations what an occult theory is to an aspirant on very much lower levels. The only way in which I can give any faintest idea of the higher reaches of the initiate consciousness will be through reference to lower grasped capacities and the presentation of undefinable truths in terms of that which has been defined and which (to these higher states of awareness) are in the nature of seed thoughts.
Some small grasp of the nature of the consciousness of Shamballa will emerge as we study this section of the Treatise, for the higher levels of the cosmic etheric plane are permeated with energies emanating from the cosmic astral plane and the cosmic mental plane; these energies, playing through and directed by the great Lives Who form a permanent nucleus of the Council Chamber at Shamballa, do condition and are the impelling, motivating and relating power behind all the evolutionary processes on lower levels.
Yet, the life and consciousness of the Hierarchy are very different to the life and consciousness of Those Who constitute the great center called Shamballa; the developing sensitivity to increasingly high impression, which is the result of each stage of the final initiatory process, is the only way in which the distinction and the goal become apparent. Just as those who read and study these ideas are occupied with concepts and thoughts totally unrealized and wholly inexplicable and sometimes even senseless, to the ordinary everyday businessman in the street, so there are also ranges of thought and eternal extra-planetary concepts which are equally unknown and temporarily inexplicable to the initiate working in an Ashram under some Master. When the student realizes that the great universal Oneness which he associates with monadic consciousness, is only the registration of impressions localized (and therefore limited) and defined within the etheric levels of the cosmic physical plane, he can perhaps grasp the implications of the wonder which will be revealed to the initiate who can transcend the entire cosmic physical plane (our seven planes of the human, superhuman and the divine worlds) and function upon another cosmic level. This is what the treading of the Way of the Higher Evolution enables a Master eventually to do.
One interesting fact emerges out of all this comparative work and this mode of analogical teaching, and that is that the word “spiritual” refers neither to religious matters (so-called) nor to the Path of Discipleship or the Path of the major or higher initiations, but to the relationships on every level of the cosmic physical plane, to every level from the lowest to the highest. The word “spiritual” relates to attitudes, to relationships, to the moving forward from one level of consciousness (no matter how low or gross, from the point of view of a higher level of contact) to the next; it is related to the power to see the vision, even if that vision is materialistic as seen from the angle of a higher registration of possibility; the word “spiritual” refers to every effect of the evolutionary process as it drives man forward from one range of sensitivity and of responsiveness to impression to another; it relates to the expansion of consciousness, so that the unfoldment of the organs of sensory perception in primitive man or in the awakening infant are just as surely spiritual events as participation in an initiatory process; the development of the so-called irreligious man into a sound and effective businessman, with all the necessary perception and equipment for success, is as much a spiritual unfoldment – in that individual’s experience – as the taking of an initiation by a disciple in an Ashram.
The assumption by orthodox church people that the word “spiritual” connotes profound and effective interest in orthodox religion is not borne out by the facts of the spiritual life. Some day, when the world is increasingly led by its initiates, this erroneous assumption will be discarded, and it will be realized that all activity which drives the human being forward towards some form of development (physical, emotional, intuitional, and so forth) is essentially spiritual in nature and is indicative of the livingness of the inner divine entity.
I have felt it necessary to point this out because it will become apparent as we read and study this section of the Treatise that the Master – moving forward into higher areas of impressionability – may not and frequently will not express this development in terms of what is now regarded as “spiritual” by the religious devotee and by the man used to the wording and the terminology of the churchmen of all faiths. The discoveries of science, my brother, or the production of some great work in literature or in the field of art, are just as much an evidence of “spiritual” unfoldment as the rhapsodies of the mystic or the registration by the so-called occultist of a contact with the Hierarchy.
There will, however, come a point in the experience of all those thus making a spiritual approach along some specialized line, where a meeting place will become apparent, where a joint goal will be unitedly recognized, where essential unity under diversity of forms, of methods and of techniques will be acknowledged, and where pilgrims on all ways of approach will know themselves to be one band of demonstrators of the divine.
One such meeting place is upon the periphery of the Hierarchy during the stage immediately prior to acceptance into an Ashram. It is interesting to note that – on a worldwide scale – the world disciple, Humanity, is today on the verge of this major awakening and joint registration of a unity not hitherto reached; the growth of the spirit of internationalism, the inclusiveness of the scientific attitude, and the spread of a universal humanitarian welfare movement are all indicative of this meeting place.
Another such meeting place is recorded and entered (symbolically speaking) when the third initiation is taken, and still another is realized at the time of the seventh initiation. These all register development in group awareness, as well as in the recognition of the individual initiate, as to what is happening within the consciousness aspect of humanity.
The door into the Way of the Higher Evolution simply permits the entrance of the sensitive initiate into “spheres of intimacy” (as they are sometimes called) which are this time cosmic in their implications, planetary in their effects, and which give to the initiate what has been called the “key to the Sun” – as it conditions the solar system – just as the door to initiation gives to the aspirant the “key to the kingdom of God.”
We have dealt in the foregoing pages with deep matters and have touched upon topics too high for the understanding of the average student or probationary disciple; dim recognitions, based on past acceptances are, however, possible to some of you. We have seen, among other things, that the so-called “door of initiation” presents obstacles whose purpose is to block entrance and to draw out the latent will of the applicant; an initiate is one who succeeds in penetrating to the further side of the door, where recognition awaits him. We will now concern ourselves with the basic theme of the Ashram itself.