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|Initiation, Human and Solar - Chapter IX - The Path of Initiation|
|THE PATH OF INITIATION
After a longer or shorter period of time the disciple stands at the Portal of Initiation. We must remember that as one approaches this portal and draws nearer to the Master it is as says "Light on the Path," with the feet bathed in the blood of the heart. Each step up is ever through the sacrifice of all that the heart holds dear on one plane or another, and always must this sacrifice be voluntary. He who treads the Probationary Path and the Path of Holiness is he who has counted the cost, whose sense of values has been readjusted, and who therefore judges not as judges the man of the world. He is the man who is attempting to take the "kingdom by violence," and in the attempt is prepared for the consequent suffering. He is the man who counts all things but loss if he may but win the goal, and who, in the struggle for the mastery of the lower self by the higher, is willing to sacrifice even unto death.
The first two Initiations
At the first initiation, the control of the Ego over the physical body must have reached a high degree of attainment. "The sins of the flesh," as the Christian phraseology has it, must be dominated; gluttony, drink, and licentiousness must no longer hold sway. The physical elemental will no longer find its demand obeyed; the control must be complete and the lure departed. A general attitude of obedience to the Ego must have been achieved, and the  willingness to obey must be very strong. The channel between the higher and the lower is widened, and the obedience of the flesh practically automatic.
That all initiates measure not up to this standard may be ascribed to several things, but the note they sound should be on the side of righteousness; the recognition of their own shortcomings which they will evidence will be sincere and public, and their struggle to conform to the highest standard will be known, even though perfection may not be achieved. Initiates may, and do, fall, and thereby incur the working of the law in punishment. They may, and do, by this fall injure the group, and thereby incur the karma of readjustment, having to expiate the injury through later prolonged service, wherein the group members themselves, even though unconsciously, apply the law; their progress will be seriously hindered, much time being lost in which they must work out the karma with the injured units. The very fact that a man is an initiate, and therefore the medium for force of a greatly increased kind, makes his lapses from the straight path to have more powerful effects than is the case with a less advanced man; his retribution and punishment will be equally greater. Inevitably he must pay the price before he is allowed to proceed further upon the Way. As for the group he injures, what should their attitude be? A recognition of the gravity of the error, a wise acceptance of the facts in the case, a refraining from unbrotherly criticism, and a pouring out of love upon the sinning brother: all this, coupled with such action as will make clear to the onlooking general public that such sins and infringements of the law are not condoned. To this must be added an attitude of mind within the group concerned which will lead them (whilst taking firm action) to help the mistaken brother to see his error, to work out the retributive karma, and then to reinstate him  in their regard and respect when due amends have been made.
All people do not develop exactly along the same or parallel lines, and therefore no hard or fast rules can be laid down as to the exact procedure at each initiation, or as to just what centers; are to be vivified, or what vision is to be accorded. So much depends upon the ray of the disciple, or his development in any particular direction (people do not usually develop evenly), upon his individual karma, and also upon the exigencies of any special period. This much can be suggested, however: At the first initiation, that of the birth of the Christ, the heart center is the one usually vivified, with the aim in view of the more effective controlling of the astral vehicle, and the rendering of greater service to humanity. After this initiation the initiate is taught principally the facts of the astral plane; he has to stabilize his emotional vehicle and learn to work on the astral plane with the same facility and ease as he does on the physical plane; he is brought in contact with the astral devas; he learns to control the astral elementals; he must function with facility on the lower subplanes, and the value and quality of his work on the physical plane becomes of increased worth. He passes, at this initiation, out of the Hall of Learning into the Hall of Wisdom. At this time, emphasis is consistently laid on his astral development, although his mental equipment grows steadily.
Many lives may intervene between the first initiation and the second. A long period of many incarnations may elapse before the control of the astral body is perfected, and the initiate is ready for the next step. The analogy is kept in an interesting way in the New Testament in the life of the initiate Jesus. Many years elapsed between the Birth and the Baptism, but the remaining three steps were taken in three years. Once the second initiation is taken  the progress will be rapid, the third and fourth following probably in the same life, or the succeeding.
The second initiation forms the crisis in the control of the astral body. Just as, at the first initiation, the control of the dense physical has been demonstrated, so here the control of the astral is similarly demonstrated. The sacrifice and death of desire has been the goal of endeavor. Desire itself has been dominated by the Ego, and only that is longed for which is for the good of the whole, and in the line of the will of the Ego, and of the Master. The astral elemental is controlled, the emotional body becomes pure and limpid, and the lower nature is rapidly dying. At this time the Ego grips afresh the two lower vehicles and bends them to his will. The aspiration and longing to serve, love, and progress become, so strong that rapid development is usually to be seen. This accounts for the fact that this initiation and the third, frequently (though not invariably) follow each other in one single life. At this period of the world's history such stimulus has been given to evolution that aspiring souls - sensing the dire and crying need of humanity - are sacrificing all in order to meet that need.
Again, we must not make the mistake of thinking that all this follows in the same invariable consecutive steps and stages. Much is done in simultaneous unison, for the labor to control is slow and hard, but in the interim between the first three initiations some definite point in the evolution of each of the three lower vehicles has to be attained and held, before the further expansion of the channel can be safely permitted. Many of us are working on all the three bodies now, as we tread the Probationary Path.
At this initiation, should the ordinary course be followed, (which again is not at all certain) the throat center is vivified. This causes a capacity to turn to account in the Master's service, and for the helping of man, the attainments  of the lower mind. It imparts the ability to give forth and utter that which is helpful, possibly in the spoken word, but surely in service of some kind. A vision is accorded of the world's need, and a further portion of the plan shown. The work, then, to be done prior to the taking of the third initiation, is the complete submerging of the personal point of view in the need of the whole. It entails the complete domination of the concrete mind by the Ego.
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