The Points of Crisis
Just as there are five points of crisis in the life of a man as he achieves the goal of initiation (which we call the five Initiations), so there are five similar points of crisis in the process of taking form in the three worlds, with three of more importance, – the first, the third and the fifth. When (speaking again in symbols) a soul, functioning under divine impulse, comes into incarnation and undergoes racial experience in order to develop certain manifested qualities, there are five points of crisis. I am here speaking in terms of humanity as a whole, as mankind expresses what we call the “human state of consciousness”. I am not speaking in terms of an individual soul, if such a misnomer may be permitted. These five points of crisis mark the transfer of soul life from one race to another. Each time such an event happens, there is racial unfoldment, and the appropriation, more or less consciously, by the race of another vehicle of expression. The following tabulation shows the appropriations marking the five racial crises.
- In the Lemurian civilization –
the appropriation of the physical body, with its five senses.
- In the Atlantean civilization –
the appropriation of the astral body.
- In the present Aryan world –
the appropriation of the mental body, with consequent intellectual unfoldment.
- In the coming race –
conscious appropriation and integration of the threefold personality.
- In the final race –
the expression, in fullest measure, of the soul and its vehicles, plus some measure of spiritual manifestation.
Here, therefore, we have five points of crisis in the life of the individual, in conjunction with the whole, with the first stage (called individualization) in Lemuria, the third stage in our race, and a final stage at the end of the age. These stages are carried forward over so long a period of time, and are so closely interrelated, that one stage and period makes possible that of another, and only the analytical mind sees or seeks differentiation. The reflection of this fivefold experience in any individual life takes place in the following order in the life of the average intelligent aspirant, who responds to, and takes advantage of the civilization and education of the present time.
- Appropriation of the physical sheath. This takes place between the fourth and seventh year, when the soul, hitherto over-shadowing, takes possession of the physical vehicle.
- A crisis during adolescence, wherein the soul appropriates the astral vehicle. This crisis is not recognized by the general public and is only dimly sensed, from its evidenced temporary abnormalities, by the average psychologist. They do not recognize the cause but only the effects.
- A similar crisis between the twenty-first and twenty-fifth years, wherein the mind vehicle is appropriated. The man should then begin to respond to egoic influences, and in the case of the advanced man, he frequently does.
- A crisis between the thirty-fifth and forty-second years, wherein conscious contact with the soul is established; the threefold personality then begins to respond, as a unit, to soul impulse.
- For the remaining years of life, there should be an increasingly strong relationship between the soul and its vehicles, leading to another crisis between the fifty-sixth or the sixty-third years. According to that crisis will depend the future usefulness of the person and whether the ego continues to use the vehicles on into old age, or whether there is a gradual withdrawal of the indwelling entity.
There are many corresponding cycles of crisis in the life history of any soul down through the ages, but these major five crises can be traced with clarity from the standpoint of the higher vision.
One of the ways in which the life story of a soul is charted in the archives of the Masters (under the present planetary experiment) is by means of graphs, which give these crises – racial and individual. Sometimes, with the more advanced aspirants, even the physiological crises of importance are charted. The entire story of the relationship of a soul with its several vehicles of expression in the three worlds, is the story of the various types of energy which are being magnetically related to each other and which are temporarily subordinated to varying aspects of force, in order to produce those fields of magnetic activity wherein certain needed rates of vibration may be established. From the angle of the initiates of the Ageless Wisdom, the story of man, the aspirant, is the story of his response to, or repulse of, applied energies. The fact that the interplay between different types of energy results in the formation of those aggregations or condensations of force which we call bodies, sheaths or vehicles (material or immaterial) is incidental to the main issue, which is the development of a conscious response to the life of God.
Small units of energy, relatively speaking, are swept into contact with great fields of force, which we call planes. According to the extent of the impact (and this is determined, – symbolically speaking, – by the power of the originating will, the so-called age of the soul, the potency of group activity, and planetary or group karma), so will be the response between the unit of energy and the field contacted, and so will be the quality and vibratory activity of the atoms of matter which are attracted and held together. They will thus constitute a temporary form from which can be seen as externalized and as relatively tangible, and which can function as a mode or medium whereby the soul can contact larger forms of divine life and expression. The more intricate the organization of the form and the more complex and perfect the response apparatus, the more clearly will be indicated the age of the soul and the perfected intent or potency of its will, the freer it will be from the limiting karma of an unevolved conditioning vehicle.
A close study of this subject is not possible here. The appropriation by a soul of those energy units which will constitute its body or sheath, as it passes from one plane to another and from one state of consciousness to another, is a study so abstruse and complicated that only those initiates whose development equips them and whose interest impels them to work with the application of the law of karma (which is identified in time and space with substance and force), can readily comprehend the complexities of the subject.
Two words are emerging today in connection with modern psychology which have a close relation to this difficult law; they indicate two basic ideas with which these trained initiates work. The idea of patterns and the idea of conditioning hold definite occult implications. The workers in this department of esoteric work deal primarily with the world of patterns which underlie all the activities of the Oversoul and the individual souls. Forget not that this term “individual souls” is but a limiting phrase, used by the separative mind to indicate the aspects of one reality.
Patterns are, in the last analysis, only those types of energy which are struggling to emerge into material expression and which eventually subordinate the more superficial and obvious energies (which have worked their way through to the surface in the process of manifesting) to their newer imposed rhythm. Thus they produce the changed types, new forms and different notes, tones and appearances. These patterns are literally the divine ideas, as they emerge from the subjective group consciousness and take those mental forms that can be appreciated and appropriated by the mind and brain of man during any particular epoch. It might, therefore, be thought that these patterns or fundamental ideas which take shape and appear to control the “way of a man on earth”, as it is esoterically called, produce the conditioning here discussed. Literally and curiously, this is not so. From the angle of esoteric thought, conditioning (if rightly understood) concerns the response, innate and inherent, of matter or substance, to the pattern. It might be said that the pattern evokes and awakens response, but that the conditioning of the resultant activity is determined by the quality of the response apparatus. This quality is inherent in the substance itself, and the interplay between the pattern and the conditioned material produces the type of sheath which the soul appropriates in time and space, in order to experiment and gain experience. It will appear more clearly, therefore, as one studies this subject and ponders deeply upon its implications, that as a man advances on the path of evolution and nears the status of an initiate, the conditioning of the form, innate and inherent, will continuously approach nearer and nearer to the requirements of the pattern. It might also be stated that the pattern is relatively immutable and unchangeable in its own inherent nature, as it comes forth from the mind of either the macrocosmic Deity or the microcosmic thinker, but that the process of the inner conditioning of matter is mutable and in a state of continual flux. When, at the third initiation, union of the pattern and the conditioned form is achieved, the Transfiguration of the initiate takes place, leading to that final crisis wherein the two are known as one, and the form nature (including in this phase the causal body as well as the lower vehicles) then is dispersed and disappears.
The early stages of human development are – as in all else in nature, – apparently inchoate and formless, from the angle of the true pattern, existing eternal in the Heavens. There is a physical form, but the inner, fluid, subjective nature, emotional and mental, in no way conforms to the pattern, and, therefore, the outer form is also inadequate. But crisis after crisis occurs, and the inner form nature responds more definitely and precisely to the outer impact of the soul impetus (note this paradoxical phrase), until the astral vehicle and the mental body are consciously appropriated, and as consciously used. It must never be forgotten that evolution (as we understand it and as it must be studied by the human intellect) is the story of the evolution of consciousness and not the story of the evolution of form. This latter evolution is implicit in the other and of secondary importance from the occult angle. Consciousness is literally the reaction of active intelligence to the pattern. Today, it is as if we were responding consciously and with an increasingly intelligent purpose to the design as laid down by the Master Builder upon the tracing board. As yet we do not and cannot enter into that Cosmic Mind and vibrate in conscious unison with the divine Idea nor grasp the Plan as it is sensed and seen by the cosmic Thinker. We have to work with the design, with the pattern, and with the Plan, for we are only as yet in process of being initiated into that Plan and we are not aware of the true significance of those great Identifications which enabled the Carpenter of Nazareth to say: “I and my Father are one.”
But it must also be remembered (and herein lies the clue to world unfoldment and to the mystery of past, present and future) that we are dealing with matter-substance and with forms which are already conditioned, and which were conditioned when the creative process began. The material to be found in the quarries of manifested purpose is, symbolically speaking, Marble and is thus conditioned. It is not clay or slate. It is from this marble, with all the inherent attributes of marble, that the Temple of the Lord must be built, in conformity to the design or pattern. This conditioned substance must be accepted as existing and must be dealt with as it is. Such is the parable of the ages. The design, the material, and the future temple are all subjectively related, and it is this that the soul knows. For the soul is the One who appropriates the material (already conditioned and qualified), and for ages the soul wrestles with that material, building it into tentative forms, discarding it at will, gathering together again the material needed, and steadily making more adequate models as the pattern is visited. Some day, the model will be discarded, the pattern will be seen as it really is, and the worker, the soul, will then begin to build consciously the Temple of the Lord, out of the conditioned and prepared material which, for long ages, it has been preparing in the quarry of the form life, the personal life.
Here, therefore, are indicated two crises in the subjective life of the soul:
- The crisis wherein the soul, blinded, limited and handicapped by form, begins to work in the quarry of experience, far from its own country, with inadequate tools, and in complete temporary self-imposed ignorance of the design, or pattern.
- The crisis which comes very much later in the soul’s experience, wherein the soul knows more clearly the design, and in which much material has been prepared. The soul is no longer blind, and can now work in collaboration with other souls in the preparation of the material for the final Temple of the Lord. The soul, incarnate in human form, places in that Temple his particular contribution to the whole, which might be stated symbolically to be
- A stone placed in the foundations, typical of the consecrated physical life.
- A column in the Temple itself, typical of the desire or aspirational life.
- A design upon the tracing board, which coincides with the Great Pattern or Design, and which is that fragment of that design which the individual had to supply and in search of which he went forth.
- A radiance or light, which will augment the Shekinah, the light which “ever shineth in the East”.
Three things emerge in connection with the task of the soul as it appropriates sheath after sheath for expression:
- The condition of the substance of the sheaths which determines the equipment.
- Responsiveness to the pattern, which is dependent upon the stage of conscious development.
- Ability to work in connection with the Plan, which is dependent upon the number and quality of the crises undergone.
All this takes place as the soul passes, time after time, through the experience of physical incarnation; later, progress is made consciously from plane to plane and this is undertaken with clear intent. The work is facilitated and progresses with increased rapidity as the soul, actively, intelligently and intuitively, begins to work with the pattern, transmitting from crisis to crisis (each marking an expansion of consciousness) a newer reach of development and a fresh grasp of the great Design, coupled with a better and more adequate equipment through which to carry on the work.
In our consideration of the second part of the statement in this treatise, which deals with the relationship of the soul to its instrument – the mechanism whereby or wherewith it expresses quality, activity and eventually divinity (whatever that vague word may mean) – we have to approach the subject in two ways:
- First, we must consider the utilization of the mechanism on the Path of Outgoing.
- Second, the utilization of the mechanism upon the Path of Return.
In the first case, we are dearing with what might be regarded as the physiological aspect, for it is in the physical nature that the consciousness is primarily focused; in the second case, we are concerned with the purely mental apparatus, though the word “apparatus” is basically unsuitable.
It might be well to interrupt here for a moment and deal with the idea of mechanism and divinity, for these are apt to be a materializing of the idea of divinity, particularly in the West. The divinity of Christ, for instance, is frequently illustrated by reference to His miracles, and to those supernormal powers which He so often evidenced. Supernormal powers are, of themselves, no evidence of divinity at all. Great exponents of evil can perform the same miracles and demonstrate the same capacity to create and to transcend the normal faculties of man. These powers are inherent in the creative aspect of Divinity, the third or matter aspect, and are linked to an intelligent understanding of matter and to the power of the mind to dominate substance. This power is, therefore, neither divine nor non-divine. It is a demonstration of the capacity of the mind, and can be used with equal facility by an incarnated Son of God, functioning as a World Savior or Christ, and by those Beings who are on the path of destruction, and who are called (by those who know no better) Black Magicians, Evil Forces and Devils.
Divinity (using the word in its separative sense) connotes the expression of the qualities of the second or building aspect of God, – magnetism, love, inclusiveness, non-separativeness, sacrifice for the good of the world, unselfishness, intuitive understanding, cooperation with the Plan of God, and many other such qualitative phrases. Mechanism, after all, implies the creation of a form out of matter and the infusing of that form with a life principle which will show itself in the power to grow, to reproduce, to preserve identity of some kind, to flower forth into certain instinctual reactions, and to preserve its own specific qualitative nature. Life resembles the fuel which, in conjunction with the mechanism, provides the motivating principle and makes activity and the needed movement possible. But there is more to manifestation than forms which possess a life principle. There is a diversity running through nature and a qualifying principle which differentiates the mechanisms; there is a general synthesis and purpose which defies the powers of man to emulate it creatively, and which is outstandingly the major characteristic of divinity. It expresses itself through color and beauty, through reason and love, through idealism and wisdom, and through those many qualities and that purpose which, for instance, animate the aspirant. This is – briefly and inadequately expressed – Divinity. It is, however, a relative expression of Divinity. When each of us stands where stand the Masters and the Christ, we will regard this whole question from another point of view. The developing of virtues, the cultivation of understanding, the demonstration of good character and high aims, and the expression of an ethical and moral point of view are all necessary fundamentals, preceding certain definite experiences which usher the soul into worlds of realization which are so far removed from our present point of view that any definition of them would be meaningless. What we are engaged in is the development of those qualities and virtues which will “clear our vision”, because they produce the purification of the vehicles so that the real significance of divinity can begin to emerge in our consciousness.