Accepted disciples strongly influenced by the First Ray of Will and Power have to struggle virtually alone to achieve initiation. If they were to be accorded the assistance and encouragement normally given to disciples polarised to the Second Ray of LoveWisdom, then there would be no struggle for them at all. And the essence of initiation is struggle, trial and test in which the metal of the disciple’s personality must survive the mounting blows of fate as karma adjusts itself; it must respond to the mystical cajoling of the audiovisual glories of the fast-unfolding inner world; it must resist the enticement of siddhis like astral projection. Only the personality which is completely integrated, in which all three bodies —the physical, emotional, and mental—are fully developed and completely under the control of the ego, is able to endure, nay, even survive the application of the planetary rod (of initiation) to the head centres clustered about the third ventricle of the brain, the core of the magnetic aura. Only he who has been malleable, tempered and tested in the hall of experience is ready for the hall of initiation. Anyone less eligible would not get past even the Dweller on the Threshold, let alone survive the flash of planetary fire on thebBurning Ground. If you have never known the sickening thrill of a straight flush; if you have never paused, guilty, ‘in the rank sweat of an ensemened bed,’ or clapped your hands to ears that would shut out the screams of scorching tank-entombed men; or, true blue, have never quelled the nausea of protesting organs with gulps of C20H5; or friendless, in thebgreat alone, have never heard the winds speak, or the earth move; or hounded by some unknown force, have not plunged deep in every glittering pool and have not emerged from all of these crying ever, ‘Not this! Not this!’, then these words are not for you. The Burning Ground is not for you, not yet; not until every call of the flesh is answered; not until every material mesh has clung to you. But, when richest in experience— experience beyond your wildest dreams—and when poorest in attachment to them, then comes the Burning Ground.
All Will Have Meaning Then, Paul, three days blinded by the shaft of light; then Hiram Abiff taking the blow; then Arjuna, on the field of battle; then St Augustine, reeling before the City of God; then Lulley confronting the cancerous breast; then Socrates drinking the hemlock; then More facing the scaffold; then Swedenborg’s madness and Bacon’s treason; then all will have meaning. For you, the initiate, there will be the end to your cry of ‘Not this!’bInstead, from the cliffs of your own mind you will proclaim for all initiates to hear, This!’ and joyfully you will tread your way back down the mountainside and take up your yoke next to your fellow man, knowing full well why you pull, what you pull, and where you pull it. This comes to everyone. It comes when it is least expected; It comes in a life chosen for the event, and thereafter it comes in every life like a divine right. It comes in that last desperate and bitter run-in of incarnations that pins us in quick succession to the crosses of the Zodiac. It comes to us after the welter of all our experiences in many lives on Earth has brought us to our knees. Armed with the self reliance and integration of personality, which our broad, varied and intense experiences have brought us, we can survive the Burning Ground. There is no other criterion but involvement in the whole gamut of experience which the material world has to offer, in some life or another; nothing, not even pure spirit, can evolve without it. One does not have to be a trained occultist or a rambling mystic to come within reach of the Burning Ground: ‘The lover, the madman and the poet are of imagination compact.’ It is the crises survived that matter and not the ecclesiastical or commercial or social rank of the man. Emerson exhorted the timid to search for self-reliance in experience as a precursor for self-unfoldment. Discontent, insecurity and fear all stem from lack of experience and indicate the need for self reliance. The world cries out for he who, having fought against nature, at last learned to work with her laws.
So many offer to give up the many vices and assume the qualities of a virtuous life without ever having experienced the temptation of such vices. The result is that when they are confronted with the real thing: temptation on the physical and later on the astral, they go down like ninepins. It is easy to say that you can give up smoking, alcohol or sex when you have never been really involved in any of them. If you were accepted in discipleship on such a basis, the chances are that with the higher sensitivity that comes from occult techniques of self-unfoldment, you would succumb to the first real temptations from these directions. It is truly said that when man treads the Path all that is ‘good’ and all that is ‘evil’ is thrown to the surface. It is much better to have faced the problems on the surface during one’s probationary discipleship than to have to face them all at once. when you are also engaged in exploration of the inner worlds which comes with accepted discipleship. Give me the hardened sinner who has fought and won his battles against the blows of fate and has yet remained malleable to the rod of initiation. Rather him than the whimpering, timorous nincompoop full of his own virtuosities, afraid of truth as well as temptation, of being led astray, of death and the life hereafter. Give me someone who has fashioned his own life no matter what the result rather than he who has merely accepted what society has chosen for him. As Emerson puts it: ‘We want men and women who shall renovate life and our social state, but we see that most natures are insolvent; cannot satisfy their own wants, have an ambition out of all proportion to their practical force, and do so lean and beg, day and night, continually. Our housekeeping is mendicant; our arts, our occupations, our marriages, our religion, we have not chosen, but society has chosen for us. We are parlour soldiers. The rugged battle of fate where strength is born, we shun. ‘If our young men miscarry in their first enterprise, they lose all heart. If the young merchant fails, men say he is ruined. If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges, and is not installed in office it seems to his friends and to himself he is right in complaining the rest of his life. A sturdy lad, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always, like a cat, falls on his feet is worth a hundred of these city dolls. He has not one but a hundred chances. ‘Regret calamities if you can thereby help the sufferer; if not, attend your own work, and already the evil begins to be repaired. Our sympathy is just as base. We comfort them who weep foolishly, and sit down and cry for company, instead of imparting to them truth and health in rough electric shocks, putting them once more in communication with the soul. Welcome ever more to gods and men is the selfhelping man. For him all doors are flung open.’ Yea, even the door of initiation! The world is full of men with the seed of genius but so very few of them have the phallus to implant their seed, or the courage born of experience to nurture it in the rough soil of their environment. Guardians of the Human Race Where are we to find prospective initiates, the real guardians of the human race which Plato described in his Republic? Are they to be found only in novels like Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge? Or do we recognise them only after they are dead, like the saints of old? They are here among us now. They are sometimes known to us as Winston Churchill, who even now works actively on the inner planes to guide his beloved Britain. With the eye of occult discrimination you can pick them out, men such as Ernest Hemingway, Laurence Olivier, working openly, or sometimes slaving in backwaters like Albert Schweitzer. Watch them searching, seeking, serving, experiencing. They follow not the self-made rules, standards and codes of men, but their self-made laws, caring not for public censure or comment. Such men are even now upon the earth, Serene amid the half-formed creatures round. For men begin to pass their nature’s bound, And find new hopes and cares which fast supplant Their proper joys and grief; they grow too great For narrow creeds of right and wrong. From Paracelsus by Robert Browning While I was on lecture tour in America recently, I was startled to hear that yet another actor had rejected the world of material gain and had sought retreat from the turmoil of his many personality involvements. For three years Bobby Darin remained in isolation, ‘finding himself’ as I heard him say on television. Then he emerged once more, a calmer, more dignified and wiser person. What he went through in that period of withdrawal only we who have done the same thing can say. Strength is somehow gained from inward sources. Cary Grant Almost identical to this was the withdrawal and introspection of Cary Grant in the late fifties. Wealthy, successful, three times married, the youthful appearance of this ageing man does not appear to record the shocks of his eventful life. He seems to have sampled every facet of experience which this world has to offer. There must be hardly a man who would not change places with him for what he is and what he has. But apparently he too has experienced the yearning for something within and the rejection of ‘Not this!’ and seeks instead, ‘This!’ A London daily newspaper portrayed Mr Grant as a mystic, a man in search of ultimate truths and inner fulfilment, a thinker bent on self-completion and introspection … haplessly ensconced, it seems, on the gaudy roundabout of show business … one who, looking like a matured Adonis, spiced his confession of his real self with words like eternity, evolution, grain of sand, self-examination, Ghandi, Christ and Freud. The report concludes by saying that Mr Grant belongs to some spiritual California sect and quotes him as saying: ‘I don’t know if I’ll ever have the courage to turn entirely to metaphysical matters.’ Cary Grant, and others hovering between two kingdoms, would find consolation in the knowledge that by their experiences they have gained the certitude of metaphysical redemption.