Initiation I – The Birth at Bethlehem

I have preserved the above Christian nomenclature because of its familiarity and because (symbolically speaking) it conveys an aspect of a major truth. Just as the birth of a child is an entrance into light, literally speaking, and the beginning of an entirely new way of life, so each successive initiation is in an exactly similar manner an entrance into light, involving the revelation of a different world to the one hitherto known, and the undergoing of entirely new experiences. If students would keep this symbology and this definition carefully in mind, they would arrive at a keener concept of the processes which lie ahead of them. This is particularly true in connection with this first initiation; the analogy holds good from the very dawn of history, where humanity is considered.

In ancient Lemuria, with the coming in of the mental idea and mechanism, the low grade animal life (which, to a certain extent, looked human but was definitely mindless, unknowing and unseeing) became suddenly aware of that which threw light upon its way. It meant little to the animal men of those days, but it came increasingly to have significance as millennia of years elapsed; civilizations came and went; races developed and disappeared. In Lemurian days, the indwelling light of perception (though it was a perception so remote from ours as to be practically inconceivable) revealed the physical world and that found upon it which the human being of that time would deem desirable. Later, in Atlantean times, that same indwelling light and unfolding light of the mind served to reveal the world of emotions, and in the later half of that period it revealed the more aesthetic values; the arts began to flourish; color and beauty were registered. In our more modern Aryan race, the light has revealed the world of thought and has brought us to a synthesis of the senses; these senses were developed in earlier cycles of human living. Each of these three races, in a mysterious manner, has a correspondence on a racial scale to the first three initiations.

Today, as we enter the new era, the symbology of the fourth initiation, that of the Renunciation, has application; men face the necessity of renouncing the material values and of substituting the spiritual. The ferment of the initiation process goes on all the time, undermining the materialism of the race of men, revealing more and more of the reality underlying the phenomenal world (the only world recognized by the Lemurians) and – at the same time – providing that cultural field of experience in which those sons of men who are ready to do so can undergo the five initiations, technically understood. This is the factor of importance. This, therefore, is our starting point.

The historical process can (and will) reveal the gradual entrance of mankind into ever-expanding “lighted areas” of consciousness; into these areas the way of evolutionary unfoldment has led the race of men right up to the point where there are many, many thousands (and millions if you consider all of humanity – those in incarnation today and those that are out of incarnation upon the inner planes) who have been enabled to step out of the lighted field of the three worlds into another area where the light of the mind can be blended with the still greater light of the soul. They have (in past lives, even though recollection may be lacking) undergone the birth experience and initiation, and as a result of this, that which can reveal what the mind is unable to illumine is now developing and functioning within them. The “light of life” is now available, in a sense far more literally true than you can at this time perceive, and each successive initiation will see this fact more clearly demonstrated. The Birth Initiation lies behind in the experience of many, and this is factually proved by the lives of those who are consciously and willingly oriented towards the light, who see a wider world than that of their own selfish interests, who are sensitive to the Christ life and to the spiritual consciousness in their fellowmen and who see an horizon and vistas of contact unperceived by the average man; they realize a possible spiritual achievement, unknown and undesired by those whose lives are conditioned entirely by either the emotions or the lower concrete mind. At this stage of unfoldment they have a sense of conscious dualism, knowing the fact of the existence of that “something other” than the phenomenal, emotional and mental self.

The first initiation might be regarded as the goal and the reward of the mystical experience; it is fundamentally not an occult experience in the true sense of the term, for it is seldom accurately realized or consciously prepared for, as is the case of the later initiations, and this is why the first two initiations are not considered major initiations. In the mystical realization there is naturally and normally an emphasis upon dualism, but in the new area of unfoldment – visioned and later to be struggled for and attained, initiation by initiation – unity is achieved and dualism disappears. Students should therefore have in mind the following definite occult concept: The mystical Way leads to the first initiation. Having achieved its purpose, it is then renounced, and the “lighted Way” of occultism is then followed, leading to the lighted areas of the higher states of consciousness.

Thus both ways are seen to be essential; the mystical way is for the majority at this time, and an increasingly large number of mystics will emerge out of the modern masses of men; paralleling this, the occult way is attracting more and more of the world intelligentsia. Its experience is not basically religious, as the orthodox churchman understands the word. The way of science is as deeply needed by mankind as is the way of religion, for “God” is found equally on both ways. The scientific way leads the aspirant into the world of energies and forces, which is the true world of occult endeavor, revealing the Universal Mind and the workings of that great Intelligence which created the manifested universe. The “new man” who has come to birth at the first initiation must and will tread the occult or scientific way, which inevitably leads him out of the world of mysticism into the scientific and assured perception of God as life or energy.

The first initiation marks the beginning of a totally new life and mode of living; it marks the commencement of a new manner of thinking and of conscious perception. The life of the personality in the three worlds has for aeons nurtured the germ of this new life and fostered the tiny spark of light within the relative darkness of the lower nature. This process is now being brought to a close, though it is not at this stage entirely discontinued, for the “new man” has to learn to walk, to talk, and to create; the consciousness is now, however, being focused elsewhere. This leads to much pain and suffering until the definite choice is made, a new dedication to service is vouchsafed, and the initiate is ready to undergo the Baptism Initiation.

Members of the New Group of World Servers should watch with care for all those who show signs of having passed through the “birth” experience and should help them toward a greater maturity. They should assume that all those who truly love their fellowmen, who are interested in the esoteric teaching, and who seek to discipline themselves in order to attain greater beauty of life, are initiate and have undergone the first initiation. When they discover those who are seeking mental polarization and who evidence a desire and aspiration to think and to know, coupled with the distinguishing marks of those who have taken the first initiation, they can, in all probability, safely assume that such people have taken the second initiation or are on the verge of so doing. Their duty will then be clear. It is by this close observation on the part of the world servers that the ranks of the New Group are filled. Today, the opportunity and the stimulation are so great that all servers must keep alert, developing in themselves the ability to register the quality for which search must be made, and giving the help and guidance which will weld into one cooperative band those disciples and initiates who should prepare the way for the Christ.

The first initiation should be regarded as instituting a new attitude towards relationships. This is not yet the case. The relationships hitherto recognized, speaking generally, have been those karmically, physically and emotionally instituted; they are largely objective and predominantly concern the phenomenal plane with its contacts, duties, responsibilities and obligations. The new relationships however, to be increasingly recognized, are subjective and may have but little phenomenal indication. They embrace the recognition of those who must be served; they involve the expansion of the individual consciousness into a growing group awareness; they lead eventually to an eager response to hierarchical quality and to the magnetic pull of the Ashram. Such a development in the recognition of relationships leads finally to a recognition of the Presence of the Christ and to relationship with Him. With the recognition of and the relationship to the planetary Logos we need not at this point deal. All these relationships begin, in their truest connotation and with a correctly realized objective, at the birth of the “new man.” To this the Christ referred when He said: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” I am here using the Christian terminology but prefer to speak of the “new man” rather than the strictly Christian phrase “the birth of the Christ Child in the heart.” It is by means of the touchstone of relationships that world servers can contact the initiates and the accepted disciples in the world, and can discover those aspirants who can be helped and trained.

Let me bring another point to your attention. In the phenomenal world of the average human being who has not yet passed through the initiatory experience of the rebirth, the emphasis has ever been and is today upon the dual relationship of the sexes and to this our novels, plays, movies and affairs of all men bear testimony. Creativity expresses itself mainly through the propagation of the race, brought about through the relation of male and female, or of the positive and negative poles in the human family. This is right and good and part of the divine Plan. Even though men have prostituted their capacities and debased their relationships, the basic plan is divine and ideal. After the first initiation, the entire sex relationship shifts gradually and steadily into its proper place as simply a natural phase of existence in the three worlds and as one of the normal and correct appetites, but the emphasis changes. The higher experience and correspondence, that of which physical sex is only the symbol, becomes apparent. Instead of male and female, there emerges the magnetic relationship between the now negative personality and the positive soul, with consequent creativity upon the higher planes. Of this relationship the head center and the center between the eyebrows (the ajna center) are the agents and eventually – through the medium of the pituitary body and the pineal gland – they condition the personality, rendering it soul-infused.

I have given you so much information anent initiation and the rays and centers in my many books that there is no need for me to repeat it here; there is, however, great need for you to collect and tabulate the scattered information so that you can register it as a whole. Many who read these instructions and who study the books I have written are in process of preparation for one or other of the initiations, and the entire theme should therefore be of major interest to you. You should decide (at least tentatively) which initiation lies ahead of you and then discover all you possibly can about it and its prerequisites, endeavoring to make practical application of the imparted information; either that which I give to you is true or it is not; if true, it is vital to your future progress and you should aim at achieving a measure of real understanding.

You have been taught that the activity or the inactivity of the centers conditions the personality, working through the endocrine system; the energies which the centers channel and the forces which they generate can be controlled and directed by the soul, by the spiritual man. You have likewise been told that the energy of the sacral center (the center most implicated and active at the time of the first initiation) has to be transmuted and raised to the throat center, thereby transforming the physical creative act into the creative process of producing the good, the beautiful and the true. This is the ABC of your fundamental knowledge: the transmutation of sex. In that transmutative process men have greatly erred and have approached the subject from two angles:

  1. They have sought to stamp out natural desire and have endeavored to emphasize an enforced celibacy; they have thus frequently warped the nature and subjected the “natural man” to rules and regulations which were not of divine intent.
  2. They have tried – at the other extreme – to exhaust normal sexual desire by promiscuity, license and perversions, damaging themselves and laying up the basis for trouble for many incarnations ahead.

True transmutation is in reality the achieving of a correct sense of proportion in relation to any phase of human life, and for the race of men today has particular reference to the sacral center and the energies which bring it into activity. When a proper recognition of the place the sex life should play in the daily life is paralleled by the concentration of thought anent the throat center, that center becomes automatically magnetic and attracts the forces of the sacral center upward through the spine into “the place of creative building”; the normal sex life is then regulated and not atrophied, and is relegated to its rightful place as one of the usual faculties or appetites with which man is endowed; it is brought under control through the lack of directed interest and is subordinated to the law of the land as regards its relation to its opposite pole – either negative and feminine or masculine and positive. To the aspirant it becomes mainly the agent for the creation of the vehicles needed for reincarnating souls. Thus by force of example, by the avoiding of all extremes, by the dedication of the bodily energies to the higher uses, and by the acceptance of the law of the land in any given country and at any given time, the present disorder and the current misuse of the sex principle will give way to orderly living and to the right use of this major bodily function.

{Note added by me. Is not the human orientation towards sex currently way out of kilter?}

This regulated physical life comes about when the personality is sufficiently integrated and coordinated and the ajna center (the center between the eyebrows) is active and is coming under the control of the soul. This has an immediate effect – automatically induced – upon the gland associated with this center; it becomes a balanced part of the general endocrine system and past imbalance is avoided. Simultaneously, the head center becomes active as a result of the aspirant’s mental perception, meditation and service; this brings the allied gland, the pineal gland, into action. All this is again only the ABC of occultism.

What is oft omitted from normal consideration is the fact that the increasing activity of these two “points of light within the head” is basically related to what is occurring in the sacral and throat centers, as the transmutative process proceeds and the energies of the sacral center are gathered up into the throat center – without, however, withdrawing all the energy from the lower center; thus its normal activity is properly preserved. The two centers in the head then become correspondingly active; the negative and the positive elements affect each other, and the light in the head shines forth; a line of light, permitting free interplay, is established between the ajna center and the head center, and therefore between the pituitary body and the pineal gland. When this line of light is present and there is an unobstructed relation between the two centers and the two glands, then the first initiation becomes possible. When this takes place, it must not be inferred that the task of transmutation going on between the lower and the higher centers and the relationship between the two head centers is fully and finally completed and established. The line of light is still tenuous and unstable, but it is in existence. It is the energy let loose at the first initiation and distributed into the sacral and the throat centers (via the slowly awakening head center) which brings the transmutation process to a successful conclusion and stabilizes the relationship within the head. This process may take several lives of steadily intensifying effort on the part of the initiate-disciple.

Thus the work of magical reformation starts, and it is here that the influence of the seventh ray (which governs the first initiation) enters in; one of the functions of this ray is to bring together soul and body, the higher and the lower, life and form, spirit and matter. This is the creative task confronting the disciple who is engaged in lifting the energies of the sacral center to the throat center and of establishing a right relation between the personality and the soul. Just as the antahkarana has to be constructed and established as a bridge of light between the Spiritual Triad and the soul-infused personality, so a similar bridge or correspondence is established between the soul and the personality, and, in connection with the mechanism of the disciple, between the two head centers and the two glands within the head.

When that line of light has related the higher spiritual aspects and the lower, and when the sacral center and the throat center are in true related alignment, the initiate-disciple becomes a creative worker under the divine Plan and a “magical exponent” of the divine building work; he is then a constructive force, wielding energy consciously on the physical plane. He creates forms as expressions of reality. This is the true work of magic.

You can see, therefore, that in the creative work three energies are brought into a related activity:

  1. The energy concentrated in the ajna center and which is indicative of the personality life.
  2. The energy concentrated in the head center as a result of soul activity.
  3. The energy of the seventh Ray of Ceremonial Order or Magic, making possible true creative activity under the divine Plan.

There is nothing spectacular to be told anent the first initiation; the initiate-disciple still works in the dimly lit “cave of the spiritual birth”; he has to continue his struggle to reveal divinity, primarily on the physical plane – symbolized for us in the word “Bethlehem” which means the “house of bread”; he has to learn the dual function of “lifting up the lower energies into the light” and – at the same time – of “bringing down the higher energies into bodily expression.” Thus he becomes a white magician.

At this initiation he sees, for the first time, what are the major energies which he must bring into expression, and this vision is summed up for him in the Old Commentary in the following words:

“When the Rod of Initiation descends and touches the lower part of the spine, there is a lifting up; when the eyes are opened in the light, that which must be lowered into form is now perceived. The vision is acknowledged. The burden of the future is assumed. The cave is lighted up and the new man issues forth.”

That this may be true of all of you who read these words is the prayer and the wish of your friend and counselor.

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The Rays and the Initiations – Part Two – Section Two – The Aspirant and the Major Initiations

By Alice Bailey and Djwhal Kuhl