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Initiation, Human and Solar - Chapter VII - The Probationary Path

Preparation for Initiation

The Probationary Path precedes the Path of Initiation or Holiness, and marks that period in the life of a man when he definitely sets himself on the side of the forces of evolution, and works at the building of his own character. He takes himself in hand, cultivates the qualities that are lacking in his disposition, and seeks with diligence to bring his personality under control. He is building the causal body with deliberate intent, filling any gaps that may exist, and seeking to make it a fit receptacle for the Christ principle. The analogy between the prenatal period in the history of the human being and that of the development of the indwelling spirit is curiously interesting.
We might look at it in this way:

  1. The moment of conception, corresponding to that of individualization.
  2. Nine months' gestation, corresponding to the wheel of life.
  3. The first initiation, corresponding to the birth hour.

The Probationary Path corresponds to the latter period of gestation, to the building in the heart of the babe in Christ. At the first initiation this babe starts on the pilgrimage of the Path. The first initiation stands simply for commencement. A certain structure of right living, thinking, and conduct has been built up. That form we call character. It has now to be vivified and indwelt. Thackeray has well described this process of building, in the words so often quoted: [64]

"Sow a thought and reap an action;
sow an action and reap a habit;
sow a habit and reap character;
sow character and reap destiny."

The immortal destiny of each and all of us is to attain the consciousness of the higher self, and subsequently that of the Divine Spirit. When the form is ready, when Solomon's temple has been built in the quarry of the personal life, then the Christ-life enters, and the glory of the Lord over-shadows his temple. The form becomes vibrant. Therein lies the difference between theory and making that theory part of oneself. One can have a perfect image or picture, but it lacks life. The life can be modeled on the divine as far as may be; it may be an excellent copy but lacks the indwelling Christ principle. The germ has been there, but it has lain dormant. Now it is fostered and brought to the birth and the first initiation is attained.

Whilst the man is on the Probationary Path he is taught principally to know himself, to ascertain his weaknesses and to correct them. He is taught to work as an invisible helper at first and for several lives is generally kept at this kind of work. Later, as he makes Progress, he may be moved to more selected work. He is taught the rudiments of the Divine Wisdom and is entered into the final grades in the Hall of Learning. He is known to a Master, and is in the care (for definite teaching) of one of the disciples of that Master, or, if of rare promise, of an initiate.

Classes are held by initiates of the first and second degrees, for accepted disciples and those on probation, between the hours of ten and five every night in all parts of the world, so that the continuity of the teaching is complete. They gather in the Hall of Learning and the method is much the same as in the big Universities, - classes at certain hours, experimental work, examinations, and a [65] gradual moving up and onward as the tests are passed. A number of the Egos on the Probationary Path are in the department that is analogous to the High School; others have matriculated and are in the University itself. Graduation results when initiation is taken and the initiate passes into the Hall of Wisdom.

Advanced Egos and the spiritually inclined, who are not yet on the Probationary Path, attend instructions from disciples, and on occasions large classes are conducted for their benefit by initiates. Their work is more rudimentary, though occult from a worldly standpoint, and they learn under supervision to be invisible helpers. The invisible helpers are usually recruited from amongst the advanced Egos. The very advanced, and those on the Probationary Path and nearing initiation, work more frequently in what might be termed departmental work, forming a group of assistants to the Members of the Hierarchy.

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