Diversities of Initiations

Major and Minor Initiations

In dealing with this question of the diversities of initiations it may be of value to the student to remember that the great moment in which a man passed out of the animal kingdom into the human, which is called in many occult textbooks the “moment of individualization,” was in itself one of the greatest of all initiations. Individualization is the conscious apprehension by the self of its relation to all that constitutes the not-self, and in this great initiatory process, as in all the later ones, the awakening of consciousness is preceded by a period of gradual development; the awakening is instantaneous at the moment of self-realization for the first time, and is always succeeded by another period of gradual evolution. This period of gradual evolution, in its turn, leads up to a later crisis which is called Initiation. In the one case, we have initiation into self-conscious existence, in the other, initiation into spiritual existence.

These realizations, or apprehended expansions of consciousness, are under natural law, and come in due course of time to every soul without exception. In a lesser degree they are undergone daily by every human being, as his mental grip of life and experience gradually grows, but they only become initiations into the wisdom (as differentiated from expansions of knowledge) when the knowledge gained is:

  1. Consciously sought for.
  2. Self-sacrificingly applied to life.
  3. Willingly used in service for others.
  4. Intelligently utilized on the side of evolution.

Only souls of a certain amount of experience and development do all these four things consistently and steadily, and thus transmute knowledge into wisdom, and experience into quality. The ordinary average man transmutes ignorance into knowledge, and experience into faculty. It would be helpful if all of us pondered upon the difference between inherent quality and innate faculty; one is the very nature of buddhi, or wisdom, and the other of manas, or mind. The union of these two, through a man’s conscious effort, results in a major initiation.

These results are brought about in two ways: First, by a man’s own unaided effort, which leads him in due course of time to find his own center of consciousness, to be guided and led by the inner ruler or Ego entirely, and to unravel, through strenuous effort and painful endeavor, the mystery of the universe, which is concealed in material substance energized by Fohat. Secondly, by a man’s efforts, supplemented by the intelligent loving cooperation of the Knowers of the race, the Masters of the Wisdom. In this case the process is quicker, for a man comes under instruction – should he so desire – and subsequently, when he has on his part provided the right conditions, there is placed at his disposal the knowledge and the help of those who have achieved. In order to avail himself of this help he has to work with the material of his own body, building right material into an ordered form, and has therefore to learn discrimination in the choice of matter, and to understand the laws of vibration and of construction. This entails the mastering, in some measure, of the laws that govern the Brahma and Vishnu aspects: it means a faculty of vibrating with atomic accuracy, and the development of the quality of attractiveness, which is the basis of the building, or Vishnu aspect.

He has to equip, also, his mental body so that it may be an explainer and transmitter, and not a hindering factor as now. He must likewise develop group activity, and learn to work in a coordinated manner with other units. These are the main things that a man must accomplish along the path of initiation, but when he has worked at them, he will find the Way, it will be made clear to him, and he will then join the ranks of the Knowers.

Another point to be remembered is that this effort to make people cooperate intelligently with the Hierarchy, and to train them to join the ranks of the Lodge, is, as earlier pointed out, a special effort (inaugurated in Atlantean days and continued to this time) made by the Hierarchy of the planet, and is very largely in the nature of an experiment. The method whereby a man assumes conscious place in the body of a Heavenly Man differs in different planetary Schemes; the Heavenly Man, who uses our planetary Scheme as his body of manifestation, chooses to work in this particular way during this particular period for his own specific purposes; it is part of the process of vitalizing one of his centers, and of linking up his heart center with its connection in the head. As other of his centers are vitalized, and come into full activity, other methods of stimulating the cells in his body (the deva and human monads) may be followed, but for the present the cosmic Rod of Initiation, which is applied to a Heavenly Man, in much the same manner as the lesser rods are applied to man, is being utilized in such a way that it produces that specific stimulation which demonstrates in the activity of man on the Path of Probation and the Path of Initiation.

Therefore man must recognize the cyclic nature of initiation, and the place of the process in time and space. This is a special period of activity in the cycle of a Heavenly Man, and it works out on our planet as a vast period of trial or initiatory testing; it is, nevertheless, equally a period of vitalization and of opportunity.

We must also endeavor to realize the fact that initiation may be seen taking place on the three planes in the three worlds, and the thought must ever be borne in mind of the relative value and place of the unit, or cell, in the body of a Heavenly Man. The point must here be emphasized that the major initiations, or the initiations of manas, are those taken on the mental plane and in the causal body. They mark the point in evolution where the unit recognizes in fact, and not only in theory, his identity with the divine Manasaputra in whose body he has place. Initiations can be taken on the physical plane, on the astral, and on the lower mental, but they are not considered major initiations, and are not a conscious, coordinated, unified stimulation that involves the whole man.

A man, therefore, may take initiation on each plane, but only those initiations which mark his transference from a lower four into a higher three are considered so in the real sense of the word, and only those in which a man transfers his consciousness from the lower quaternary into the triad are major initiations. We have, therefore, three grades of initiations:

First, initiations in which a man transfers his consciousness from the lower four subplanes of the physical, astral, and mental planes respectively, into the higher three subplanes. When this is done upon the mental plane a man is then known technically as a disciple, an initiate, an adept. He uses then each of the three higher subplanes of the mental plane as a point from which to work his way completely out of the three worlds of human manifestation into the triad. Therefore it is apparent that what one might consider as lesser initiations can be taken on the physical and astral planes, in the conscious control of their three higher subplanes. These are true initiations, but do not make a man what is technically understood as a Master of the Wisdom. He is simply an adept of a lesser degree.

Secondly, initiations in which a man transfers his consciousness from plane to plane, instead of from subplane to subplane. Herein comes a point to be carefully recognized. A true Master of the Wisdom has not only taken the lesser initiations referred to above, but has also taken the five steps involved in the conscious control of the five planes of human evolution. It remains for him then to take the two final initiations which make him a Chohan of the sixth degree, and a Buddha, before that control is extended to the remaining two planes of the solar system. It is obvious, therefore, that it is correct to speak of the seven initiations, yet it would be nevertheless equally correct to enumerate five, ten, or twelve initiations. The matter is complicated for occult students, owing to certain mysterious factors about which they can naturally know nothing, and which must remain to them, as yet, utterly incomprehensible. These factors are founded in the individuality of the Heavenly Man himself, and involve such mysteries as his particular karma, the aim he may have in view for any particular cycle, and the turning of the attention of the cosmic ego of a Heavenly Man to his reflection, the evolving Heavenly Man of a solar system.

A further factor may also be found in certain periods of stimulation, and of increased vitalization, such as a cosmic initiation produces. These outside effects naturally produce results in the units or cells in the body of the Heavenly Man, and lead often to events unforeseen and apparently inexplicable.

Thirdly, initiations in which a Heavenly Man may take either a minor or a major initiation, thereby involving his entire nature. For instance, when individualization took place during the Lemurian, or the third root race, and the human family in this cycle definitely came into manifestation, it signified a major initiation for our Heavenly Man. The present stimulation in hierarchical effort is leading up to a lesser initiation. Each great cycle sees a major initiation of a Heavenly Man taken on one or other of the globes, and herein again complication lies, and much food for thought.

To the three above points we might also briefly add that of the coming in, or passing out, of any particular ray. The little that can be said upon this point, which is one of the greatest difficulty, might be summed up in the following three statements: First, that initiations taken on the four minor rays rank not in equality with initiations taken upon the major three. This is complicated somewhat by the fact that within the planetary Scheme, during cyclic evolution, a minor ray may be temporarily regarded as a major ray. For instance, at this particular time in our planetary Scheme, the seventh Ray of Ceremonial Law or Order is regarded as a major ray, being a ray of synthesis, and one on which the Mahachohan is blending his work. Secondly, that the first three initiations are taken upon the ray of the Ego, and link a man up with the great White Lodge; the last two are taken upon the ray of the monad, and have a definite effect upon the path for service that will be chosen later by the adept. This statement must be linked up with that earlier made, which stated that the fifth initiation made a man a member of the Greater Lodge, or Brotherhood, on Sirius, being literally the first of the Sirian initiations. The fourth initiation is the synthesis of the Initiations of the threshold in the Sirian Lodge. Finally, according to the ray on which initiation is taken, so very largely-depends the subsequent path of service.

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Excerpted from

Initiation, Human and Solar – Chapter XVII – Diversities of Initiations

By Alice Bailey & Djwhal Kuhl