THEOSOPHY, Vol. 11, No. 1, November, 1922
(Pages 37-41; Size: 20K)

INITIATES AND INITIATION(1)

[Part 1 of an 8-part series]

"THE work now submitted to public judgment is the fruit of a somewhat intimate acquaintance with Eastern Adepts and study of their science. It is offered to such as are willing to accept truth, wherever it may be found, and to defend it, even looking popular prejudice straight in the face.

"When, years ago, we first traveled over the East, exploring the penetralia of its deserted sanctuaries, ... we came into contact with certain men endowed with such mysterious powers and such profound knowledge that we may truly designate them as the Sages of the Orient. To their instructions we lent a ready ear. In our studies mysteries were shown to be no mysteries. Names and fables that to the Western mind have only a significance derived from Eastern fable were shown to be realities. Reverently we stepped in spirit within the temple of Isis; to lift aside the veil of 'the one that is and was and shall be' at Sais; to look through the rent curtain of the Sanctum Sanctorum at Jerusalem; and even to interrogate within the crypts which once existed beneath the sacred edifice, the mysterious Bath-Kol. The Filia Vocis -- the daughter of the divine voice -- responded from the mercy-seat behind the veil, and science, theology, every human hypothesis and conception born of imperfect knowledge lost forever their authoritative character in our sight. The one-living God had spoken through his oracle -- man, and we were satisfied. Such knowledge is priceless; and it has been hidden only from those who overlooked it, derided it, or denied its existence." (From the Author's Preface to Isis Unveiled.)

. . . . . . .
In our days of dreary soul-killing materialism, the ancient Priest-Initiates have become, in the opinion of our learned generations, the synonyms of clever impostors, kindling the fires of superstition in order to obtain an easier sway over the minds of men. This is an unfounded calumny, generated by skepticism and uncharitable thoughts. No one believed more than they did in Gods -- or, may we call them the spiritual and now invisible Powers, or Spirits, the Noumena of the phenomena; and they believed simply because they knew. And though after being initiated into the Mysteries of Nature they were forced to withhold their knowledge from the profane, who would surely have abused it, such secrecy was undeniably less dangerous than the policy of their usurpers and successors. The former taught only that which they well knew. The latter, teaching what they do not know, have invented, as a secure haven for their ignorance, a jealous and cruel Deity, who forbids man to pry into his mysteries under the penalty of damnation; as well they may, for his mysteries can at best be only hinted at in polite ears, never described.

It is not the key of St. Peter, or the Church dogma, but the Narthex -- the Wand of the Candidate for Initiation -- that has to be wrenched from the grasp of the long-silent Sphinx of the ages. Alone the Initiate, rich with the lore acquired by numberless generations of his predecessors, directs the "Eye of Dangma" toward the essence of things on which no Maya can have any influence.

That there must have been "fragments of a primeval revelation, granted to the ancestors of the whole race of mankind ... preserved in the temples of Greece and Italy" ... is what all the Eastern Initiates and Pandits have been proclaiming to the world from time to time. "What crossed the Kalapani (the black waters of the ocean) from India to Europe were only the bits of rejected copies of some passages from the sacred books." There was a "primeval revelation," and it still exists; nor will it ever be lost to the world, but will reappear.

The "wisdom" of the archaic ages or the "secret doctrine" embodied in the Oriental Kabala, of which the Rabbinical is but an abridgment, did not die out with the Philalethians of the last eclectic school. The Gnosis lingers still on earth, and its votaries are many, albeit unknown. Such secret brotherhoods have been mentioned before Mackenzie's time by more than one great author. If they have been regarded as mere fictions of the novelist that fact has only helped the "brothers-adepts" to keep their incognito the more easily. We have personally known several of them who, to their great merriment, had had the story of their lodges, the communities in which they lived, and the wondrous powers which they had exercised for many long years laughed at and denied by unsuspecting skeptics to their faces. Some of these "brothers" belong to the small group of "travelers." Until the close of the happy Louis-Philippian reign they were pompously termed by the Parisian garçon and trader the nobles étrangers, and as innocently believed to be "Boyards," Valachian "Gospodars," Indian "Nabobs," and Hungarian "Margraves" who had gathered at the capital of the civilized world to admire its monuments, and partake of its dissipations. There are, however, some insane enough to connect the presence of certain of these mysterious guests in Paris with the great political events that subsequently took place. Such recall at least as very remarkable coincidences, the breaking out of the Revolution of '93 and the earlier explosion of the South Sea Bubble, soon after the appearance of "noble foreigners" who had convulsed all Paris for shorter or longer periods by either their mystical doctrines or "supernatural gifts." The St. Germains and the Cagliostros of this century, having learned bitter lessons from the vilifications and persecutions of the past, pursue different tactics now-a-days. But there are numbers of these mystic brotherhoods which have naught to do with "civilized" countries; and it is in their unknown communities that are concealed the skeletons of the past. These "adepts" could, if they chose, lay claim to strange ancestry, and exhibit verifiable documents that would explain many a mysterious page in both sacred and profane history.

Very few Christians understand, if indeed they know anything at all, of the Jewish Theology. The Talmud is the darkest of enigmas even for most Jews, while those Hebrew scholars who do comprehend it do not boast of their knowledge. Their kabalistic books are still less understood by them; for in our days more Christian than Jewish students are engrossed in the elucidation of their great truths. How much less is definitely known of the Oriental, or the universal Kabala! Its adepts are few; but those heirs elect of the sages who first discovered "the starry truths which shone on the great Shemaia of the Chaldean lore" (Bulwer's Zanoni) have solved the "absolute" and are now resting from their grand labor. They cannot go on beyond that which is given to mortals of this earth to know; and no one, not even these elect, can trespass beyond the line drawn by the finger of the Divinity itself. Travelers have met these adepts on the shores of the sacred Ganges -- brushed against them in the silent ruins of Thebes, and in the mysterious deserted chambers of Luxor. Within the halls upon whose blue and golden vaults the weird signs attract attention, but whose secret meaning is never penetrated by the idle gazers, they have been seen but seldom recognized. Historical memoirs have recorded their presence in the brilliantly illuminated salons of European aristocracy. They have been encountered again on the arid and desolate plains of the great Sahara, as in the caves of Elephanta. They may be found everywhere, but make themselves known only to those who have devoted their lives to unselfish study, and are not likely to turn back.

Thoroughly acquainted with all the resources of the vegetable, animal, and mineral kingdoms, experts in occult chemistry and physics, psychologists as well as physiologists, why wonder that the graduates or adepts instructed in the mysterious sanctuaries of the temples could perform wonders which even in our days of enlightenment would appear supernatural? The mystery of the triad is in the hands of the adepts, and must remain a mystery to the world so long as the materialistic savant regards it as an undemonstrated fallacy, an insane hallucination -- and the dogmatic theologian a snare of the Evil One.

One need not go very deep into the literature of the Orientalists to become convinced that in most cases the modern psychologists and philosophers do not even suspect that in the arcane philosophy of India there are depths which they have not sounded, and cannot sound, for they pass on without perceiving them. There is a pervading tone of conscious superiority, a ring of contempt in the treatment of Hindu metaphysics, as though the European mind were alone enlightened enough to polish the rough diamond of the old Sanskrit writers, and separate right from wrong for the benefit of their descendants. We see them disputing over the external forms of expression without a conception of the great vital truths these hide from the profane view.

"As a rule the Brahmans," says Jacolliot, "rarely go beyond the class of grihastha (priests of the vulgar castes) and purohita (exorcisers, divines, prophets, and evocators of spirits). And yet we shall see ... once that we have touched upon the question and study of manifestations and phenomena, that these initiates of the first degree (the lowest) attribute to themselves, and in appearance possess, faculties developed to a degree which has never been equalled in Europe. As to the initiate of the second and especially of the third category, they pretend to be enabled to ignore time and space, and to command life and death."

Such initiates as these M. Jacolliot did not meet; for, as he says himself, they only appear on the most solemn occasions, and when the faith of the multitudes has to be strengthened by phenomena of a superior order. "They are never seen, either in the neighborhood of, or even inside, the temples, except at the grand quinquennial festival of the fire.

"On that occasion they appear about the middle of the night on a platform erected in the centre of the sacred lake, like so many phantoms, and by their conjurations they illumine the space.

"A fiery column of light ascends from around them, rushing from earth to heaven. Unfamiliar sounds vibrate through the air, and five or six hundred thousand Hindus, gathered from every part of India to contemplate these demi-gods, throw themselves with their faces buried in the dust, invoking the souls of their ancestors."

Already some time before our era, the adepts, except in India, had ceased to congregate in large communities; but whether among the Essenes, or the Neo-Platonists, or, again, among the innumerable struggling sects born but to die, the same doctrines, identical in substance and spirit, if not always in form, are encountered. Thibet, Japan, and China teach in the present age that which was taught by the oldest Chaldeans. The clergy of these respective countries prove, moreover, what they teach, namely; that the practice of moral and physical purity, and of certain austerities, develops the vital soul-power of self-illumination. Affording to man the control over his own immortal spirit, it gives him truly magical powers over the elementary spirits inferior to himself.

In the West we find magic of as high an antiquity as in the East. The Druids of Great Britain practiced it in the silent crypts of their deep caves; and Pliny devotes many a chapter to the "wisdom" of the leaders of the Celts. The Semothees -- the Druids of the Gauls -- expounded the physical as well as the spiritual sciences. They taught the secrets of the universe, the harmonious progress of the heavenly bodies, the formation of the earth, and above all -- the immortality of the soul. Into their sacred groves -- natural academies built by the hand of the Invisible Architect -- the initiates assembled at the still hour of midnight to learn about what man once was and what he will be. They needed no artificial illumination, nor life-drawing gas, to light up their temples, for the chaste goddess of night beamed her most silvery rays on their oak-crowned heads; and their white-robed sacred bards knew how to converse with the solitary queen of the starry vault.

On the dead soil of the long by-gone past stand their sacred oaks, now dried up and stripped of their spiritual meaning by the venomous breath of materialism. But for the student of occult learning their vegetation is still as verdant and luxuriant, and as full of deep and sacred truths as at that hour when the arch-druid performed his magical cures, and waving the branch of mistletoe severed with his golden sickle the green bough from its mother oak-tree. Magic is as old as man.

A condition of the strictest virtue and purity is required from the Vatu, or candidate, in India before he can become an initiate, whether he aims to be a simple fakir, a Purihota (public priest) or a Sannyasi, a saint of the second degree of initiation, the most holy, as the most revered of them all. After having conquered in the terrible trials preliminary to admittance to the inner temple in the subterranean crypts of his pagoda, the Sannyasi passes the rest of his life in the temple, practising the eighty-four rules and ten virtues prescribed to the Yogis.

"No one who has not practised, during his whole life, the ten virtues which the divine Manu makes incumbent as a duty, can be initiated into the Mysteries of the council," say the Hindu books of initiation.

These virtues are: "Resignation; the act of rendering good for evil; temperance; probity; purity; chastity; repression of the physical senses; the knowledge of the holy scriptures; that of the Superior soul (spirit); worship of truth; abstinence from anger." These virtues must alone direct the life of a true Yogi. "No unworthy adept ought to defile the ranks of the holy initiates by his presence for twenty-four hours." The adept becomes guilty after having once broken any one of these vows. Surely the exercise of such virtue is inconsistent with the idea one has of devil-worship and lasciviousness of purpose!

The Upasakas and Upasakis, or male and female semi-monastics and semi-laymen, have equally with the dama monks themselves to strictly abstain from violating any of Buddha's rules, and must study Meipo and every psychological phenomenon as much. Those who become guilty of any of the "five sins" lose all right to congregate with the pious community. The most important of these is not to curse upon any consideration, for the curse returns upon the one that utters it, and often upon his innocent relatives who breathe the same atmosphere with him. To love each other, and even our bitterest enemies; to offer our lives even for animals, to the extent of abstaining from defensive arms; to gain the greatest of victories by conquering one's self; to avoid all vices; to practice all virtues, especially humility and mildness; to be obedient to superiors; to cherish and respect parents, old age, learning, virtuous and holy men; to provide food, shelter and comfort for men and animals; to plant trees on the road, and to dig wells for the comfort of travelers; such are the moral duties of Buddhists. Every Ani or Bikshuni (nun) is subjected to these laws.

Many of the lamasaries contain schools of magic, but the most celebrated is the collegiate monastery of the Shu-tuki, to which there are attached over 30,000 monks, the lamasery forming quite a little city. Some of the female nuns possess marvelous psychological powers. We have met some of these women on their way from Lha-Sea to Candi, the Rome of Buddhism, with its miraculous shrines and Gautama's relics. To avoid encounters with Musselmans and other sects they travel by night alone, unarmed, and without the least fear of wild animals, for these will not touch them. At the first glimpses of dawn they take refuge in caves and viharas prepared for them by their co-religionists at calculated distances; for notwithstanding the fact that Buddhism has taken refuge in Ceylon, and nominally there are but few of the denomination in British India, yet the secret Byauds (Brotherhoods) and Buddhist viharas are numerous, and every Jain feels himself obliged to help indiscriminately, Buddhist or Lamaist.

(To be Continued)


COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:

GRADES OF PERCEPTION

Question: If every human being has a common origin and is of the same nature, what is the purpose of creating different races? And what was the Ego before it started incarnating?

Answer: In the first place, you must understand that there is no creation of different races. Different races are growths and attractions by affinity of different grades of growth.

As for the Ego, there is no Ego until there is a perception; it is a part of the great ocean of Life. Then, there is the beginning of perception. Let us take a simple physical illustration -- the grain of sand, for instance, which has in it the power of attraction and repulsion. It attracts certain things to it and repels those that are not in sympathy with it. Here we see only one sense -- the sense of contact by attrition, or rubbing. Now that sense arouses another sense, and then a desire to express. So there is the "creation" of the sand into a rock; then, comes the lichen on the rock, and so on to greater and greater range of expression. Thus the first step is made in individuality -- the first step of the ladder of being.--Robert Crosbie


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INITIATES AND INITIATION
II
[Part 2 of an 8-part series]

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ONE (1) FOOTNOTE LISTED BELOW:

(1) Collated from Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine.
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