CLEARING THE GROUND
In the beginning, earth was without form
And blackness covered the great deep.
THE FIRST STEP towards success in any task is taken by learning all that can be learned of its nature and of the nature of the effort it will demand, without actually embarking upon it. The step is completed by attentively considering one’s own nature and deciding in the light gained through the study whether one possesses the power, and above all the will, to do what the work will require. To leap into action without some such preliminary movement will mean that the chances of failure, which naturally and inevitably accompany all human endeavours, will be greatly increased; and if this is true when the task lies in the everyday world, it is doubly true when it lies in the Occult Realm, for there human values do not obtain, and indeed are often reversed.
A task, in the form of Seven Lessons in Practical Occultism, is placed before the reader of this book. He may decide to undertake it; or he may not; but before making his decision he should, as a person of intelligence, endeavour to learn all that it is possible for him to learn of the work to which he is invited, and thus furnish himself with clear-cut reasons for whatever attitude towards it he chooses to assume.
To aid the prospective student in taking his first step, this prefatory, unnumbered lesson is given. All who look to profit in any way from the book, even though they do not contemplate making it a definite, practical study, are earnestly advised to give the lesson the closest attention. Success in the field of Occultism is at best difficult to achieve, but it is apt to become impossible unless the instructions herein set forth are held firmly in mind as a background for all subsequent effort.
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(12) Think of the giver of these lessons, if you find it necessary to think of him at all, not as a law-giver, or a preacher, but as a slightly older Learner—a Pupil-teacher.
(13) Think of the lessons as lessons, not as sermons, rules of conduct, or codes of morals.
(14) Put away all desire to be learned, and think only of learning. Knowledge is co-existent with LIFE: LIFE is eternal: therefore of learning there is no end.
Do what you can to recover the ”child state you have lost”. In the form of the child, Life holds up before your eyes for your instruction a living example of the true Learner. The adult dignity of the Western student weighs him down and shuts him away from the Path of Learning, just as the ”great possessions” of the rich man in the Gospel story shut him out of the Kingdom of Heaven, because it causes him, materialistically, to include his Inner Being within his consciousness of physical maturity. Information, falsely called knowledge, is by the Enemy, Authority, spread in profusion in the path of the adult, who therewith builds an exitless prison, and sits in it, and dreams that he is free; but of the same material the child, the Learner, builds him a bridge to knowledge, and in freedom walks upon it safe from the snares of the Foe.
Origin of the Lessons
In what particular school of occult thought have these lessons their origin? This is a question certain to be asked, at least by students experienced in occult studies. Ideas and practices suggestive of Raja Yoga may be distinguished in some of the lessons. Others (particularly in Lesson IV) may be noted that can hardly have origin anywhere but in the Qabalah and its glyph, the Tree of Life. Others again point to the Arhat Philosophy or Theosophy of H. P. Blavatsky as their source; and others still, to The Ancient Mysteries and Druidism. But while all these systems appear in some measure to have been placed under contribution, the curious inquirer may find it difficult to ascribe the lessons as a whole to any known occult school.
To affix labels to himself, his ways and works is one of the commonest and strongest instincts of man, and it is one which the average student of Occultism shares quite equally with other men. It is an attribute, however, which the Learner should seek to eliminate from his nature, for it is but one of the disguises in which the Sense of Separateness, the demon that keeps strife alive in the world, constantly manifests. Should I (as I would) refrain from referring these lessons to any particular occult source, leaving them to be accepted or rejected entirely on their own merits, it is certain that students and others would label them for themselves, and equally certainly label them wrongly.
The system outlined—for outlined is all it is—in the series of lessons I present does not originate in any of the Occult Schools commonly known and already enumerated. The general ground-plan—the seven numbered steps rising from an unnumbered foundation (the present)—is derived from a system followed by an obscure circle of students of Occultism (of which I myself am a lay, or external member) which has its working centre in the Middle East. This Circle has no name that would convey any meaning to the Western reader. It claims no particular Tradition, but should the reader insist on ascribing it one he may, without undue inaccuracy, call it HERMETIC, remembering that, in the words of an elder brother, ”Hermetic Philosophy . . . is the boundless ocean of Truth, the central paint whither flows and wherein meets every river, as every stream—whether its source be in the East, West, North, or South.”
So much it is necessary to say concerning the source of the teachings I give, but in saying it I do not desire it to be thought that I am disclaiming individual responsibility for any ideas contained in the book or for the manner in which they are presented. Quite otherwise: I merely desire to make clear that I am not the creator of the material I handle, but rather am an interpreter, and that I accept an interpreter’s responsibility.
Here I think it is but right to say that my knowledge of Occultism, philosophic or practical, such as it is, has not, except to a very minor extent, been derived from study of books. With the sole exception of the little manual Light on the Path, of which I knew the substance in another language...
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THE PHILOSOPHIC FOUNDATION
”THE SECRET DOCTRINE establishes three fundamental propositions:
(a) An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable PRINCIPLE on which all speculation is impossible since it transcends the power of human conception and could only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude. It is beyond the range and reach of thought ... ’unthinkable and unspeakable’.”
H. P. BLAVATSKY: The Secret Doctrine
THE first postulate of Occult Philosophy, whether that philosophy is of the East or of the West, is an ABSOLUTE, but of the real meaning of the conception very little appears to be understood by students in general, or even by many who take it upon themselves to teach. Of the latter there are some who it is impossible to believe lack the correct understanding, yet who for reasons very hard to appreciate make confusion trebly confounded by referring the term THE ABSOLUTE to states of Self-conscious Being, which are absolute relative to a particular evolutionary cycle transcended, but are in no sense whatsoever THE ABSOLUTE of universal Occult Philosophy defined by H. P. Blavatsky in the words above quoted.
As to this First Fundamental Proposition of The Secret Doctrine, as a definition it would be entirely unexceptionable if only the comments which H.P.B. makes upon it were distinctly separated from others on the same page that refer not to the First PRINCIPLE, but to the First CAUSE, or Noumenon, of manifest Life. But her exposition as it stands, on this page 14 of the original edition of The Secret Doctrine [3rd edition page 42; 6 vol. Adyar edition page 70.], has left multitudes of earnest students in the deepest confusion as to what her ”ABSOLUTE” really is.
LIFE possesses a single attribute, which is said to be itself, the quality of EVERBECOMING. In her great work, The Secret Doctrine, H. P. Blavatsky speaks of this EVERBECOMING as ”eternal, ceaseless MOTION’’. In Eastern Occultism it is called ”The Great Breath”. To the man who will but open his eyes and use his understanding it is everywhere manifest. Whether we survey the Universe of Universes as a single Being (which it is, since no expression of LIFE can be other than alive), or a man, or a tree, or an atom, we see this ”eternal, ceaseless Motion” revealed in an endless procession of aspects of LIFE passing into LIFE itself. Look, for example, upon a tree in Springtime when new shoots are being put forth and buds are unfolding into leaves. You perceive a certain form, and you call that form ”tree”, and think that you know what a tree is. But tomorrow look again upon the tree and ask yourself if what you perceive is really the appearance you saw yesterday and called ”tree”. Have not the buds unfolded further? Have not the shoots lengthened? Is not the form before you subtly, but none the less actually, different from that which you looked upon yesterday? Is it not the fact that what you now call ”tree” is not the appearance to which yesterday you gave the same name? Suppose you were an intelligent visitor from another planet who knew nothing of the life-forms of this world, and were shown a tree in Winter, you would depart to your own world believing that you knew the tree. But if six months later you repeated your visit and were shown the same tree, do you imagine that you would associate the second appearance with the first? Assuredly not.
What then is this thing you call ”tree”, which on no two successive occasions presents quite the same appearance? Have you ever seen the actual tree? Obviously not. You have been giving the name of ”tree” to an endless procession of appearances which a certain aspect of LIFE presents to you, but that aspect, the real Tree, you have never seen at all: it exists in your consciousness only as an idea to which you find it impossible to give form. Where is the ”tree” you perceived yesterday, and where, tomorrow, will the ”tree” be which you perceive today? Both will have vanished for ever, absorbed into a formless, never-manifest IDEA.
It has been said that in order to perceive the reality of a tree one would have to be able to perceive in a glance its whole life-course, from the seed from which it sprang, through all its phases of growth, onward to its fall and crumbling to dust. Yet comprehensive though such a vision would be, it would reveal only a limited aspect of the reality, for the existing ”tree” is merely a phase of the life of a seed, and another seed will continue the life of the tree when it has fallen and crumbled into dust. The life-course of the tree from seed to seed, if perceived in a single vision, would still be no more than a passing appearance, like all other appearances existing only to vanish on the instant into an idea, or consciousness of a REALITY which, though called by a myriad races, never has, and never can have, a manifest form.
The ultimate REALITY into which all appearances eternally pass and are lost is LIFE. The eternal procession of its aspects eternally vanishing into the Noumenon, LIFE itself, is the EVERBECOMING, the ”eternal, ceaseless Motion” of the real UNIVERSE. LIFE is; but it is manifest only in its sole attribute, EVERBECOMING, which is ITSELF.
Has the Occult Doctrine any mode of explaining LIFE and its manifestation other than that outlined? it may be asked. Certainly it has, but none, I think, likely to explain it better. Obviously LIFE itself cannot be explained by any man, however wise, for man himself is but a passing phase of its attribute, EVERBECOMING, and can know the REALITY of which he is an appearance in no way other than by consciously being Everbecoming. There is, however, a more metaphysical mode of approach to the subject, and for the benefit of those who prefer that method- I will here state it.
THE DIVINE TRINITY
BEING (or any Being) in ultimate metaphysical analysis is a compound of three elements, none of which has any independent manifestation, or is knowable otherwise than in interaction with the other two. They are CONSCIOUSNESS, ENERGY and SUBSTANCE. All three exist in everything— in every aspect of LIFE, whether that aspect is perceived objectively through the senses or subjectively as an image in Consciousness, as a thought or a feeling, or in any other way. By the degree to which any one element is conditioned by the other two the nature or character of every Being and thing is determined. Thus in low forms of manifestations such as minerals CONSCIOUSNESS is so closely associated with SUBSTANCE that the condition permits only the most limited manifestation of ENERGY. On the other hand, in Elemental manifestations CONSCIOUSNESS and ENERGY associate so intimately that SUBSTANCE is hardly exhibited in them at all.
Now LIFE, the ultimate NOUMENON, because it manifests to perceiving Consciousness always in Being, and never otherwise, is itself conceived to be a metaphysical compound of the three primary elements each in its noumenal, or unconditioned, state. LIFE is therefore pure CONSCIOUSNESS, pure ENERGY, pure SUBSTANCE, and equally none of these, but a thing entirely inconceivable—an unconditioned compound of the three.
In an endeavour to express a conception essentially inexpressible, the Masters of the Mystery Schools of the lost Mediterranean World described this unconditioned compound as a metaphysical VIBRATION occurring outside of Time and Space, wherein the unconditioned elements, CONSCIOUSNESS and SUBSTANCE, incessantly displace each other, and ENERGY is the VIBRATION itself. The same Masters, and their successors the Hermetic Adepts, also called this VIBRATION the DIVINE TRINITY, while their brethren of the more distant East called it simply THAT.
Of this DIVINE ACTIVITY the only conception possible to human mind is that of a ceaseless and eternal veiling of bright CONSCIOUSNESS in the body of dark SUBSTANCE, and a ceaseless and eternal melting of dark SUBSTANCE in the embrace of bright CONSCIOUSNESS.
Narrowed into terms of Time-Consciousness, ”Divine Activity” manifests in the manner already indicated, in the phenomenal Everbecoming of which man himself is a part. The DIVINE VIBRATION is everywhere; everywhere, everlastingly, the man of awakened perceptions may perceive the bright body of Consciousness merging itself in the dark body of Substance, and again emerging from it in the shining form of the Child, KNOWLEDGE.
The Six-pointed Star within the Circle of Eternity, the most ancient of the sacred symbols of the world, had its origin in an attempt to suggest the nature of the DIVINE VIBRATION.
Is the DIVINE TRINITY a Self-conscious Being? It cannot be, for IT is infinite, and Being implies limitation. In IT all Beings have their Noumenon, and in IT as unconditioned CONSCIOUSNESS the Consciousness of every Being has its Noumenon. DIVINE BEING is all things but possesses no thing; IT possesses no Self, but IT is the ONE, the only true, SELF.
Man: the symbol of LIFE
Through its myriad aspects LIFE eternally speaks of its nature to man, but most clearly and unmistakably does it speak through man’s own Being. In himself man possesses a living witness and symbol of LIFE universal. The Masters of the ancient world taught that man is the Microcosm—the Cosmos in little—and over the door of every temple and shrine of the Mysteries they inscribed the words: ”Man, know thyself!” In lessons like these all that such a saying may imply cannot be expounded, but certain clues that may help to place the Learner on the way to discovery of its deeper significances may, and should, be given. If studied diligently, the brief hints which here follow may develop into the first, but by no means the least important, of keys to understanding of
In the formula ”I AM I’ every man expresses consciousness of individual being. ”I” is the symbol of that which speaks, and ”1” is the symbol of that which is spoken of. ”I” never changes. From the first Self-conscious word spoken by a man to the last he utters before quitting this earth-life, he declares an unchanging awareness of Being when he speaks the words ”I AM”. But not so when he says, ”I AM I”, for here he identifies his simple consciousness of Selfhood with phenomenal aspects of his Being which are incessantly changing; with his physical nature, with his emotional nature, with his mental nature, with what he and others term his character, a synthesis of all other aspects of his Being. All these attributes, separately or collectively, he terms ”I”. Thus he has ever with him a speaking symbol of LIFE infinite, eternally changeless, but in its manifesting attributes eternally changing. Though he knows it not he proclaims that he is LIFE itself whenever he utters the magic words ”I AM I”: ”I (LIFE) AM I (this aspect becoming myself)”.
Here ends this first lesson. It is not, and is not intended to be, in any sense a full exposition of the philosophy of Occultism, not even of those few fundamental postulates discussed. Like all others of this series of lessons, its purpose is not to inform but to spur into activity in a certain direction the consciousness of the Learner. Through that activity, and in no other way, results will accrue to you in due time— results in the form of true knowledge of your own. Information of a certain quality, in limited quantity, is a powerful stimulant to the appetite for knowledge, impelling the recipient to seek ways and means of his own of satisfying it. But more than I have given would, I conceive, at this stage in the lessons, be a hindrance, not a help, because by creating the illusion that it itself was knowledge it would kill in you desire to seek understanding for yourself.
From the brief and fragmentary outlines of the basic principles of Life that I have given much that will be illuminating can be made to emerge, if only they receive from you a due measure of attention. As an exercise strive to discern what their implications are as respects those familiar doctrines: Spiritual Evolution, Reincarnation, and ”Karma”. Cast from your mind whatever conceptions you already may have concerning these ”laws”, derived from what you have read elsewhere, and, starting from the principles expounded in this lesson—the root from which all ”laws” spring—proceed to evolve your own understanding. Knowledge of these and other occult doctrines is not to be gained from exposition of, or speculations concerning, their nature, but through study of LIFE changeless in EVERBECOMING.
This exercise of reformulating generally accepted doctrines from first principles is valuable in the extreme, but it may also prove extremely difficult, unless you are so fortunate as to have come to this study unburdened by ideas derived from previous study of an occult nature. In your early efforts you will with certainty form many erroneous conclusions, but remind yourself that it is exercise, not a conclusion to effort, that you are seeking, and your errors will translate themselves into steps in the ladder to knowledge. You cannot avoid falling into bewilderment at times, but do not permit bewilderment to cause you to despair, for if we were never bewildered we should never strive for light and clear-seeing. When in difficulty do not rush for help to other books and teachers, for to do that is like attempting to change horses in mid-stream. [This advice does not, of course, apply to books recommended for use elsewhere m the lessons.]
In conclusion, study, and if possible commit to memory, the following quotations: they are the word of Masters who KNEW.
AN HERMETIC POSTULATE
As is the Inner so is the Outer; as is the Great so is the Small; as it is Above so it is Below: there is but one Life and Law. Nothing is Inner, nothing is Outer; nothing is Great, nothing is Small; nothing is High, nothing is Low, in the DIVINE ECONOMY.
AN ASSEVERATION (HERMETIC RITUAL)
In the beginning, Earth was without form and void, and Darkness covered the GREAT DEEP. Then from DARKNESS a VOICE sounds, sending its echoes throughout non-Being, and these are the words which it speaks:
I am all that was. I am all that is. I am all that is to be.
I am all forms; all forms live in me, but ALL-FORM is not I, but only my fleeting shadows.
I am all power; all power moves in me, but ALL-POWER is not I, but only my changing aspects.
I am all wisdom; all wisdom shines in me, but ALL-WISDOM is not I, but only my fitful gleams.
All knowledge, all power, all substance live in ME, and I am in them and manifest through them, but I am also above them, and beyond them, eternally unmanifest.
FROM THE KENA UPANISHAD
[This Upanishad (and certain others of those great Sanscrit Scriptures) long antedates the Aryan invasion of India. From collateral evidences which I have had an opportunity of examining I have little doubt but that it is a fragment of one of the higher invocatory rituals used by the Priest-Kings of the lost Mediterranean world. The existing Upanishads are obviously but disconnected fragments. — PGB]
BY WHOM impelled flies the forward-impelled Mind?
BY WHOM compelled does the First Life go forth?
BY WHOM outbreathed is this Voice wherewith men speak?
WHO, in truth, is the BRIGHT ONE, who commands voice, sight, and hearing?
THAT which they call the Hearing of hearing, the Mind of mind, the Voice of voice, THAT is the LIFE of Life, the Sight of sight. Setting That free the Wise Ones passing from this world open the Gates of Eternity.
Sight goes not thither, nor does voice go thither, nor mind. We have not seen, nor do we know how knowledge of That may be given; for That whereof we desire to speak is the KNOWN and the UNKNOWN also.
Thus have we heard from the Masters of Old, from the Wise Ones who went before us:
THAT by which voice is not spoken, THAT through whose power voice is spoken: THAT, verily, know thou as the Eternal, not this that here they serve.
THAT which thinks not through the power of Mind,
THAT through whose power the Mind thinks thoughts:
THAT verily know thou as the Eternal, not this that here they serve.
THAT which sees not through the power of the eye,
THAT through whose power the eye sees sights:
THAT verily know thou as the Eternal, not this that here they serve.
THAT which hears not through the power of hearing,
THAT through whose power sound is heard here:
THAT verily know thou as the Eternal, not this that here they serve.
THAT which lives not through the power of the Lifebreath, THAT through whose power all Life breathes here: THAT verily know thou as the Eternal, not this that here they serve.
THE PRACTICAL FOUNDATION
MANY a man has essayed the steep ascent from the plain of the personal human life to the summit of the lofty peak where remote and dim shine the GOLDEN GATES that bar the OCCULT WAY, and has failed and fallen, not because the Ladder by which he climbed was unsound in itself, but because the ground whereupon it rested was unprepared and unstable. It is taught that the PATH lies in SELF. The Ladder by which the Aspirant ascends is therefore in Self, and the ground upon which it stands is in self. [See Glossary]
For the Adventurer there is no certainty or safety but that which he secures for himself by tests carefully planned and patiently applied to the Ladder and to its resting-place, both. Self-testing may with much truth be said to be the beginning and the continuance of progress upon the OCCULT WAY. Of end it has none, for the Self that tests self grows and changes as it labours, and changes that upon which it labours; and the SELF that tests Self is infinite and its works eternal.
For you, the Learner, preparing to take your first upward step, self-testing takes the form of self-questioning. Commence by putting to yourself the questions I shall presently suggest, and to them, in the light of the comments that accompany them, give answers that are true to the extent that truth is known to you. Do not rest satisfied with such answers as I may supply, but insist on receiving your own from within yourself. Accept no answer, whether your own or that of another, as final, for ultimate truth cannot be known to you, nor to any man however wise.
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Towards the end:
From LESSON VII — NATURAL MAGIC
…The Mind of the Stranger
Who and what is the Stranger? Every man who thinks and feels that he is separate from you is to you the Stranger, and to every man who, you think and feel, is separate from you, you are the Stranger, and to your own True Self also.
The Stranger is always with you, nearest to you, and most intimate of all Beings, alive and active within you in the Microcosm, and alive and active all about you in the Macrocosm. He is your own living parent and your own latest-born child. To entertain him with true hospitality, to serve him with due respect, and to direct him upon his way with right wisdom demands exercise of a power that only the Magician who stands at the final Step of his round of progress fully possesses; for the Stranger never comes to you alone, but brings with him, interlinked with him, his progenitors, and yours also, the Child and the Animal. Nevertheless the same Magic Weapon that makes gentle the fierce Animal, and makes obedient the rebellious Child, wielded now with greater skill, can make-the Stranger your valued friend and guest, and you, the Disciple, his wise and just host.
The Magic Weapon is COMPASSION. Turn back and consider what was said in Lesson IV concerning Compassion, where the Weapon was exhibited in its unassembled state, and compare it with what it is here shown to be, when Haft and Blade and Point are conjoined into a perfect whole, and you will, if you are a true Learner, discover unto yourself an understanding that the words of another, no matter what his wisdom, can never convey to your mind.
2. HARMONY OF SOUL
(a) The Eye that Sees Nature
Without Harmony—a true relative balance between and accord among all the parts that compose it—no instrument can serve the purpose for which it is intended, no matter what the skill of the user may be. Of the Self the executive instrument is the Soul, chief of all instruments, embracing within itself all lesser instruments. There is therefore a profound significance in the fact that the Wise Men of the Lost World should have made Soul harmony dependent upon certain associations of Self with Nature in the manner stated in The Sayings of the Ancient One.
Does not, it may well be asked, the eye of every man perceive Nature? The Teacher of Knowledge declares that it does not. Only a rare few ever perceive the true face of living Nature: of it most men see but dead aspects. As the child looks upon the face of a loving mother, seeing it not with appraisement of turn of feature, or of texture of hair, or of tint of cheek or eye, but from these drawing elements together into a synthesis always lovely and perfect, in like manner did the ancient Druid, and in like manner does the modern Adept in Natural Magic, regard the face of his Mother Nature. In this power lies the secret of True Magic. If he possesses not the Secret, whatever knowledge and power of other kinds he possesses will leave the Disciple short of the highest step in his round of progress. Not until he is able to see the face of Nature as the child sees the face of its mother, and equally as the mother sees the face of her child, can the Aspirant take sure hold upon the Haft of the Magic Weapon called Harmony of Soul.
Let it not be imagined that what I say is said in a merely mystical or allegorical way. I intend that my words be accepted in their literal meaning. I assert that it was the teaching of the ancient Masters, and that it is the teaching of all true Adepts, and my own profound belief, that the face of Nature is the actual objective manifestation of living Being, and that the eye of the Disciple must be trained to perceive and interpret her manifold moods and aspects as readily as he does those that appear and disappear in the face of a loved friend. The exposition I have given concerning the nature of the Animal, and of its relationship, Macrocosmic and Microcosmic, with Man, can readily be extended to explain the Being of Nature also. Nature—the Being, not its objective aspects—is Man’s first parent, and equally his first-born child. In the dim remote dawn of Time the entity that Man calls his World was a single homogeneous Being, living but unconscious, exactly analogous in nature to the primary cell out of which the body of every man evolves. Out of that primordial Being the entity now manifesting as Man evolved, exactly as in later ages it evolved from the Animal, and again from the Child, and as it will in future ages evolve out of the Man-phase. But no more than Man has left behind the Animal and the Child has he left behind his Mother-World: macrocosmically and microcosmically he has brought it forward with him, interlinked with him for all Eternity.
When this knowledge becomes an integral part of the Being of Man it endows him with that degree of Soul-Power that made possible the marvels accredited to the ancient Druids: to bid inanimate things to move as though alive; to command the elements into terrible action or peaceful sleep; to change base metal into pure gold; to be, in fact, possessed of the Philosopher’s Stone; all this and more is the prerogative of the man who has mastery of Harmony of Soul.
To the Learner newly entered upon his first round of conscious progress ideas like the foregoing cannot seem other than baseless superstitions. Yet, unless the Law of LIFE is other than ages of occult research have demonstrated, such powers must of necessity have existence. There is no man who does not unconsciously work Magic. The less Selfconscious he is the more expertly does he work, for it is the Sense of Separateness that kills Power. The lover who sees beauty in the face and form of his loved one and hears sublime music in her voice and laugh where others sense naught of distinction, performs an act of Natural Magic, for he has commanded in her Being, little though he knows it, the hierarchies of the Guardian Lords, and wrought with them a synthesis which to him is Beauty. And if he wins his mistress and makes her truly his, he does it by evoking within her an aspect of his own Soul-Power. Thus is Magic worked.
Except that he works with Free Will, and with fully awakened Consciousness upon his own lofty plane, the Arch-adept does with Nature, who to him is Child and Lover and Mother, nothing more than does the lover with the Being of his beloved. The Adept-eye sees, selects and assembles together from the Face of Nature the Guardian hierarchies, and marshals them into legions perfectly harmonized; and upon their united power he ascends into the Heaven-world, even unto the great White Throne of LOVE, the King. Thence he evokes the Power-of-the-Soul in the Being of the All-Mother and All-Lover, and she turns in shining beauty to embrace him, and yields her secret treasures to his will.
(b) The Heart that Comprehends Nature
To have possession of the Eye that sees Nature leads the Aspirant towards possession of the Heart that comprehends Nature. She is the long-forgotten, the outcast, the neglected daughter of man, and recognizing her as such he must go forth to her in his heart-life, and embrace her, and wake within her the Soul-Power he has found, as he wakes it also in the Animal, the Stranger and the Child. Thus only can he raise her, as raise her he must, if he is ever to shake off the shackles which the Age of Iron has fastened upon his limbs, and recover to himself the forgotten glories of the ancient Age of Gold.
It is a dream or a cherished fable of the men of every one of earth’s myriad races that their forefathers walked with the gods over the face of the young earth, and were themselves as gods. It is an occult truth that man cannot dream that which is impossible or utterly untrue. The Golden Age is no fable: it existed, and it still exists all about us, though unseen by the eyes of fallen Man. It is Man who dreams when he imagines that the world he perceives is a reality, and not until it dawns upon his Consciousness that he lives in a nightmare does he approach any realization of the true world. But his full awakening will come only when he embraces Nature with a comprehending heart, and wakes within her Being the Soul-Power that has flowered silently in his own Being during his long dream in the darkness.
Little can be said, with any hope of being comprehended or comprehensible, in the way of direct comment upon the high magical effort that wakes the Soul of the Adept within the unconscious Being of Nature. By long pondering over what has been said concerning evocation of Soul-Power in the Animal, some scattered grains of understanding may be gleaned. Roused by such musings, isolated gleams of Light may illumme your Consciousness, revealing glimpses of things glorious, yet often of things terrible. A flash may reach you and wake the thought that if Nature is in truth a living though unconscious Being, and if Man is charged with the duty of raising her by sharing with her the Soul he has won, then his crimes against her—his long neglect of her, his prostitution of her beauty, the hideous scars with which in his selfish exploitation of her he has marked her countenance — must surely bring upon him some dire retribution, unless, and very speedily, he takes steps to redress those wrongs. Whether such a thought is or is not any real reflection of the truth I shall not say here, but I will say this, that mankind must turn back to, or be driven back to, a life closer to the heart of Nature than that which he now lives before any true civilization can rise and flower on this earth.
(c) The Courage to Live with Nature
When with the Eye the Magician compels to his will the Guardian Hierarchies that dwell in the Face of Nature, and when with his Power of Soul he evokes his own Being within her Being, he will have fitted the Haft to the Blade of the Weapon of Harmony of Soul, and will have power to use the Point when needed.
Little though they may recognize the fact, or admit it even when they do recognize it, men in general live in perpetual fear of Nature. The whole trend of what we call civilization shows that fear; and the fear grows, for the flight from Nature grows ever swifter, revealing to the few who have eyes that can see and minds that can comprehend the occult truth that our race in general, far from moving spiritwards, has not yet reached in its cyclic course the point of extremes” separation from the Mother Being. It has been said that Fear is the Great Enemy. Will fear of Nature ultimately destroy mankind? To that question neither I nor any other man, however wise, can answer with certainty either yes or no. From analogies furnished by past human cycles it is possible to say merely that it is probable, indeed certain, that many subsections of the human race will not round the aphelion of their Race cycle, but will pass beyond and be lost in the Outer Darkness. Many a race and many a civilization has vanished thus and left no trace; and yet Man survives.
To use the Point of the Weapon of Harmony of Soul—to possess the Courage that enables the Man to live with Nature—implies identification of Being with the Father-Being as well as with the Mother-Being of this Planet. The power of Invocation leads to union with the Father, and the power of Evocation leads to union with the Mother. True UNION means identity with that which is Below as well as with that which is Above; with that which is Outer as well as with that which is Inner. All united with ALL is the DESTROYER of the Destroyer, whose name is Fear.
3. SKILL IN ACTION
It has been said that to comprehend anything with completeness makes comprehension of that thing superfluous. To possess Skill in Action places the Disciple beyond necessity of acting. To reinforce understanding of this truth the Haft, the Blade, and the Point of the Weapon of Skill in Action are described as they are, for each expresses that truth in a different way. Love of a task, knowledge of a task, and performance of a task without thought of reward are not, as the uninstructed learner may very reasonably imagine, conditions that when complied with lead to Skill in Action. Each is a condition, but it is the sole condition requisite to the manifestation of each of its fellows. It is therefore each of them; each is the other; and each and all are Skill in Action. No man may love that which he does not know, and no man may know that which he does not love. To love anything he must with his whole Being embrace the whole Being of that thing, merging the two into one. To know anything he must with his whole Being enter into the Being of that thing, and become it as it becomes him.
Knowing and Loving are but male and female, positive and negative, aspects of a single condition, and the executive aspect of that condition is Action without Results.
Possession of the Weapon of Skill in Action is completely attained only when all conditions that compel action have been obliterated, and when consequently all that is done is done with an absolutely unfettered will. Skill in Action is but another name for the Power-of-Soul of the Master, which he wields within the Field of Experience men call the World—a Sphere which he himself has completely explored, transmuted into Knowledge, and transcended. Within the more limited Sphere of the human, personal life, the Disciple, when he has similarly transcended it, has power to manifest Skill in Action; but not until he has also transcended the Sphere of Discipleship does he become the initiate DRUID, the Man of Power, ready now to enter fully into the high office of Priest-King of the realm he has conquered, and to take into his grasp the Fourth Weapon—the Weapon that devours the other three, the Golden Sceptre of Universal Vision.
4. UNIVERSAL VISION
Of Universal Vision, called also Enlightenment, Realization, and in the East Samadhi, much may be said, but of that much nothing may be truly comprehended except by those who have passed beyond the need of instruction. Of it as a condition I will in direct words say nothing, but will instead give expression to a few incompletely formed ideas— ideas which may or may not have an indirect bearing upon it, but which, for you, the Learner, who are now nearing that point in your Path of Progress at which, and beyond which, real learning begins, may have a certain significance.
Of Spiritual Realization the average man, and even the average Aspirant who has not yet entered the last stage of his first round of conscious progress, knows a great deal less than nothing. He lives in a state of illusion which at times is soothing, but at other times is terrifying in its oppression, and imagines in his blindness and bewilderment that should light come to him it must come in the form of a phenomenal expansion of the intellectual knowledge and human power he already has. He does not realize that when postulating such aggrandizement for his human Selfhood he is wallowing in the pit of pride, a condition anathematized by all true Teachers, and neglecting the way of humility, a way that all true Teachers extol. Yet, because he offends in ignorance, his offences, though they make laborious his progress, cannot hold him altogether away from the Light. Though he knows not towards what he aspires, his aspiration if real and strong will sweep him forward, until at last a moment dawns when the storm-clouds that enshroud and bewilder him break into shreds, and he beholds the Light of the STAR.
What vision does the pure Light of the STAR bring to the weary Pilgrim? Will it be sudden awareness of immensely expanded knowledge, and an influx of superhuman power? No! It will be an overwhelming conviction of absolute ignorance. Like nightmare phantoms that vanish when the eye of the dreamer opens at the touch of the first ray of the rising sun, those great possessions hitherto cherished by the Pilgrim, and fondly named knowledge and power, will melt from his grasp, leaving him stripped and defenceless.
This conviction of nakedness and ignorance that falls upon the Neophyte on the Threshold has been described ’by others as void, blackness, silence, and to them it may so interpret itself; but I conceive it as neither, but as a condition which is at once pure white light and ultimate spatial blackness. Should the Pilgrim stand unmoved, and not flee, as so many do, in horror at that first revealing, from the White-Blackness two shapes will emerge and extend their hands in greeting to the daring intruder. The first will have the shape of a woman, and will bear the name HUMILITY written across her breast. The second will have the form of a man, and will bear the name KNOWLEDGE written upon his forehead. HUMILITY will take the pilgrim’s left hand in both her hands, and KNOWLEDGE will take his right hand in both of his, and to him, the Initiate, they will by the act make manifest their BEING. Uplifted upon the shield of Blackness the freed Self names itself HUMILITY, and uplifting the sword of White-Light it names itself KNOWLEDGE. With the eyes of HUMILITY the Initiate sees the nothingness of his realm, a dimensionless point in the Circle of Eternity. With the eyes of KNOWLEDGE he recognizes how infinite is the dominion of which he has become possessed; for a pinpoint of true knowledge set side by side with the phantom lights of the Day of Illusion shines brighter than a lightningflash at midnight; it is a Sun of brilliance that passeth all understanding of man.
It is taught that at the raising of the veil that separates the World of Illusion from the World of Knowledge the Disciple finds,” waiting behind it, his Adept Teacher, and for the first time knows him in his real nature. It is a true teaching, but yet only relatively true, for the Adept whom the Aspirant discovers is not the MASTER himself, but only his Shadow. The Master Magicians of the ancient world, the Druids, recognized one MASTER only, and saw the hierarchies of the gods and Adept-teachers, Man, and the Beings of the inferior kingdoms as nothing but his Shadows, or emanated aspects. In all ages, and under many different names, that One, the MASTER, has been known to the Initiate. He has been called THE ANCIENT ONE, The GREAT SACRIFICE, The INITIATOR, and by some simply THAT. When, embodied in a human form and passing through the life of this world as a man among men, his presence was recognized by Men of Wisdom, they gave him other names and titles, such as Krishna and Jesus, the Avatar and the Christ. Never has there been a race of men that did not accept the fact of his existence and did not give reverence to his Being according to the habit of its thought; but outside initiate circles few men have, or ever have had, any real comprehension of what his nature is, or what his existence means to the world. Of him little is taught to Aspirants of probationary degrees; and the reason for such reticence is not difficult to appreciate when it is remembered what debased conceptions of him the common man entertains. True understanding of the Being of the MASTER cannot be conveyed to the Neophyte, yet concerning it something must needs be said.
The MASTER is a Conscious, Divine entity, the perfected product of a cycle of Planetary Becoming exactly analogous to that through which this world and all that appertains to it is now passing. Having transmuted his Sphere of Ignorance into a Body of Knowledge and made that Body an integral part of his Being, the MASTER became relative to it the wielder of the Weapon of Skill in Action: in other words he became a perfect and conscious administrator of Universal Law. As such he is a conscious transmitter of Universal Energy; and in that capacity, at the opening of the present world-cycle he emanated an almost infinite host of aspects of his Being into the Dark Sphere from out of which in future ages our world and the myriad life-forms that compose it were to evolve—a Sphere that was not dark to him, but dark only to the dormant seeds of Life that slept entranced within it. That Dark Sphere was our Mother Nature in her virgin state. From and within her Being, during the ages that have sped since that dawning of Time, the Father-Being, THE ANCIENT ONE, has, through the never-ceasing flow of the Energies of which he is transmitter, evoked all that infinitude of aspects of himself known to Man as manifest Life.
Here now, alone and unaided upon the Threshold of Discovery, the Learner must be left to prosecute his search for the GREAT INITIATOR—for THAT which stands silent and patient and invisible waiting to initiate him who by his own courageous pursuit of Knowledge has thus far initiated himself. By what signs that BEING may be known I cannot say, for none may know him but those who have taken Knowledge into their Being; and they who have so taken it need no enlightenment that man can give. It can but be said that he is the great SACRIFICE, living in every Being and every thing both great and small, and giving life to each by the gift of his own life. He is the Adept waiting behind the Dark Veil to welcome and guide the Pilgrim whose high heart has borne him inward. He is the Model upon whose nature every true Disciple labours to mould his own. He is the Warrior of whom the secret and sacred Scriptures speak.
Whosoever lives in The Camp of the Warrior, faithful to Him, and forgetful of self, remains always, within the limits of his own Sphere of Action, the Chosen Instrument and Accepted Agent of Divine Law. Whosoever lives thus knows PEACE and shares her stronghold, though for ages his aspects—his Servitors—must battle through the Dust of Confusion, ere they come at last up the long ascent to the pure, still air of the Heights. Whosoever lives thus beholds with unclouded eye the myriad beauty of living Nature unveiled for his delighting, and hears with awakened ear the multitudinous melody of the song she chants in greeting to her lovers. Whosoever lives thus has the right to command the Elemental Kings that they yield him the secret of their Power, and the right to invoke the Ancients of the Earth that they share with him the secrets of their Wisdom. Whosoever, faithful and steadfast, lives thus, comes at last, unhurried and unwearied, to the final step of the final round of his human Path; and there he pauses and extends his Right Hand; and from the Hand extended towards him—the Right Hand of THE MASTER—he takes the Golden Rod of UNIVERSAL VISION: but in taking he has given, and in giving he has retained, for the Hand that gives, and the Hand that takes, and the Hand that holds ARE NOW ONE.
By a Veil of pure Gold the Holy of Holies is hidden!
O thou Shepherd of the Flock—Lord of the Sun,
Lift up that Veil
And give vision of the Face of the Real!
Shepherd and Lord of Life, thou Master Seer—
Lord of Death—Fire-bringer—Son of Darkness and Light, Send forth thy beams
And melt into flame all Shadow!
That Image of shine, miraculous, I behold: The Light of Life in the Shadow of Life— That, and That am I!
Into that Form, lo, now I pass,
And the dust of this body I leave with the dust! Who is the Offerer, and what is the Offering?
I am That; That is I!
Lead, lead on, O WHITE-BLACKNESS; lead, lead on, Och BLACK-FLAME—
Lead on by the Path invisible to jewelled victory!
Dark-Bright One—Nameless One—the Veil, the Veil has lifted!
Hear now this salutation, O Child of Day and Night!
[— The Isha Upanishad contains a passage similar in general significance to the above, but the latter does not derive from the Sanscrit, but from the initiatory language I call Isinzu.]
THERE now remains to be said only that which it is more usual to say in a preface, but which, for reasons that all true Learners will, I think, appreciate, I deem it wisest to say at the end rather than at the beginning of this book.
The writing of the Seven Lessons was a task laid upon me by the Great Soul, to whose memory I have dedicated this work—a task which he himself would have executed had the activities of his amazingly full life left him the necessary time. What he projected was a definite attempt—the first really definite attempt of the kind made in these modern times—to teach the Occult, or Inner Way of Life, as it was taught in the ancient, and as it is still taught in the secret modern, Hermetic Schools, but in such a manner that, without exotericizing the doctrine, it might yet be made comprehensible to the intelligent though uninstructed student. He designed to show that upon the Ancient Wisdom upon the ageless, hidden, yet universal Doctrine of the SPIRIT, the ONE LIFE, the ONE BEING—alone depends the true Art of Living; and that equally upon Living the Life depends certainty that Knowledge of the Doctrine will ultimately be found.
That a pioneer attempt of this kind could be made with entirely successful results, even by one possessed of the wide vision and great gifts of him who conceived it, is at least improbable, and of the weakness and imperfection of my own effort I am most deeply conscious. I have failed, I think, because in striving to reveal overmuch I have succeeded in sketching a broken outline only, not a clear pattern. For what I have done the best I can hope is that it be recognized as a disarticulated skeleton, and that as time goes on it may be reassembled by some more skilful workman, and by him, or by others yet more skilled, at last be reclothed with living flesh.
I have worked, as I have already declared in the first lesson which this-book contains, for the Learner, and for him only; yet he, if he will but summon to his aid the Power of True Self, the SELF of ALL, though now he be but one of the FEW, may become one day the instrument whereby the FEW are transmuted into the MANY.
To that LEARNER let the ANCIENT ONE speak:
”Look, O my son, for the STAR! The STAR, O Child who would be a Man, will gleam upon you as the Night wanes, and the Storms of the Dark Hours die away into a Peace that is Herald of the Dawn. That STAR does not rise nor does it set: IT holds a fixed place beyond the clouds in the depths of a speckless sky; but not until the Thunders are hushed and the Storm Fog shreds apart can its Golden Light descend to earth and dispel the Gloom of your Night.
”Know, O son, that this Nature in which you live and labour is, like the mid-air about high mountains, the Playground and the Battleground of the Gods of Storm. Not until you dominate those Angels of Strife, and marshal them in legions obedient to your word, will the Clouds of their Breath of Fury lift and the DAWN STAR illumine the Sleeping Earth. Then, and then only, while the STAR FIRE flames upon the WAY, may you rest with PEACE, and raise the veil from her face.”