THEOSOPHY, Vol. 11, No. 5, March, 1923
(Pages 220-223; Size: 13K)
INITIATES AND INITIATION(1)
[Part 4 of an 8-part series]
PAUL declares that: "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation." (1 Corin. 11, 10.) This expression, master-builder, used only once in the whole Bible, and by Paul, may be considered as a whole revelation. In the Mysteries the third part of the sacred rites was called Epopteia, or revelation, reception into the secrets. In substance, it means that stage of divine clairvoyance when everything pertaining to this earth disappears, and earthly sight is paralyzed, and the soul is united free and pure with its Spirit, or God.
The word epopteia is a compound one, having the meaning of to look, or an overseer, an inspector -- also used for a master-builder. The title of master-mason, in Freemasonry, is derived from this in the sense used in the Mysteries. Therefore when Paul entitles himself a "master-builder" he is using a word pre-eminently kabalistic, theurgic, and masonic, and one which no other apostle uses. He thus declares himself an adept, having the right to initiate others.
The Initiates in India say that it is the Brahman, the Twice-born, who rules the Gods or Devas; and Paul repeated it in his Epistle to the Corinthians: Know ye not that we (the Initiates) shall judge angels? (I, vi:3.)
"We speak wisdom," says Paul, "among them that are perfect," (or initiated).
In the Eleusinian and other Mysteries the participants were always divided into two classes, the neophytes and the perfect. The former were sometimes admitted to the preliminary initiation: the dramatic performance of Ceres, or the soul, descending to Hades. This descent to Hades signified the inevitable fate of each soul to be united for a time with a terrestrial body. This union, or dark prospect for the soul to find itself within the dark tenement of a body, was considered by all the ancient philosophers and is even by the modern Buddhists, as a punishment. But it was given only to the "perfect" to enjoy and learn the Mysteries of the divine Elysium, the celestial abode of the blessed; this Elysium being unquestionably the same as the "Kingdom of Heaven." To contradict or reject the above would be merely to shut one's eyes to the truth.
Alone, among the Apostles of Western religion, Paul seems to have fathomed -- if not actually revealed -- the archaic mystery of the cross.
Isarim, an Initiate, is said to have found at Hebron, on the dead body of Hermes, the well-known Smaragdine Tablet, which, it is said, contained the essence of Hermetic Wisdom. Upon it were traced, among others, the sentences:
Separate the earth from the fire, the subtile from the gross ...
Ascend ... from the earth to heaven and then descend again to earth. The riddle of the cross is contained in these words, and its double mystery is solved -- to the Occultist.
Verily, may the cross be traced back into the very depths of the unfathomable archaic ages! Its mystery deepens rather than clears, as we find it on the statues of Easter Island, in old Egypt, in Central Asia, engraved on rocks as the Tau and Svastika, in pre-Christian Scandinavia, everywhere!
"To crucify before (not against) the Sun" is a phrase used of Initiation. It comes from Egypt, and primarily from India. The enigma can be unriddled only by searching for its key in the Mysteries of Initiation. The Initiated Adept, who had successfully passed through all the trials, was attached, not nailed, but simply tied on a couch in the form of a Tau, in Egypt, of a Svastika without the four additional prolongations in India, plunged in a deep sleep -- the "Sleep of Siloam," as it is called to this day among the Initiates in Asia Minor, in Syria, and even higher Egypt. He was allowed to remain in this state for three days and three nights, during which time his Spiritual Ego was said to "confabulate" with the "Gods," descend into Hades, Amenti, or Patala -- according to the country -- and do works of charity to the invisible Beings, whether Souls of men or Elemental Spirits; his body remaining all the time in a temple crypt or subterranean cave. In Egypt it was placed in the Sarcophagus in the King's Chamber of the Pyramid of Cheops, and carried during the night of the approaching third day to the entrance of a gallery, where at a certain hour the beams of the rising Sun struck full on the face of the entranced Candidate, who awoke to be initiated by Osiris and Thoth, the God of Wisdom.
Let the reader who doubts the statement consult the Hebrew originals before he denies. Let him turn to some most suggestive Egyptian bas reliefs. One especially from the temple of Philæ represents a scene of initiation. Two God-Hierophants, one with the head of a hawk (the Sun), the other ibis-headed (Mercury, Thoth, the God of Wisdom and Secret Learning, the assessor of Osiris-Sun), are standing over the body of a Candidate just initiated. They are in the act of pouring on his head a double stream of "water" (the Water of Life and of New-Birth), the streams being interlaced in the shape of a cross and full of small ansated crosses. This is allegorical of the awakening of the Candidate who is now an Initiate, when the beams of the morning Sun, Osiris, strike the crown of his head; his entranced body being placed on its wooden Tau so as to receive the rays. Then appeared the Hierophant-Initiators, and the sacramental words were pronounced, ostensibly to the Sun-Osiris, in reality to the Spirit-Sun within, enlightening the newly-born man.
Let the reader meditate on the connection of the Sun with the cross from the highest antiquity, in both the generative and spiritually regenerative capacities. Let him examine the tomb of Bait-Oxly, in the reign of Ramses II, where he will find the crosses in every shape and position; as also on the throne of that sovereign, and finally on a fragment representing the adoration of Bakhan-Alearé, from the Hall of the ancestors of Totmes III, now preserved in the National Library of Paris. In this extraordinary sculpture and painting one sees the disk of the Sun beaming upon an ansated cross placed upon a cross of which those of the Calvary are perfect copies. The ancient Mss. mention these as the "hard couches of those who were in (spiritual) travail, the act of giving birth to themselves." A quantity of such cruciform "couches," on which the Candidate, thrown into a dead trance at the end of his supreme Initiation, was placed and secured, were found in the underground halls of the Egyptian Temples after their destruction. The worthy and holy Fathers of the Cyril and Theophilus types used them freely, believing they had been brought and concealed there by some new converts. Alone Origen, and after him Clemens Alexandrinus and other ex-initiates, knew better. But they preferred to keep silent.
Again, let the reader read the Hindu "fables," as the Orientalists call them, and remember the allegory of Vishvakarma, the Creative Power, the Great Architect of the World, called in the Rig Veda the "All-seeing God," who "sacrifices himself to himself." The Spiritual Ego of mortals are his own essence, one with him, therefore. Remember that he is called Deva-vardhika, the "Builder of the Gods," and that it is he who ties the Sun, Surya, his son-in-law, on his lathe -- in the exoteric allegory, but on the Svastika, in Esoteric tradition, for on Earth he is the Hierophant -- Initiator -- and cuts away a portion of his brightness. Vishvarkarma, remember again, is the son of Yoga-siddha, i.e., the holy power of Yoga, and the fabricator of the "fiery weapon," the magic Agneyastra.
The primordial system, the double glyph that underlies the idea of the cross, is not of "human invention," for Cosmic Ideation and the spiritual representation of the Divine Ego-man are at its basis. Later it expanded into the beautiful idea adopted by, and represented in, the Mysteries, that of regenerated man, the mortal, who, by crucifying the man of flesh and his passions on the Procrustean bed of torture, became reborn as an Immortal. Leaving the body, the animal-man, behind him, tied on the Cross of Initiation like an empty chrysalis, the Ego-soul became as free as a butterfly.
Long before the cross or its sign were adopted as symbols of Christianity the sign of the cross was used as a mark of recognition among Adepts and Neophytes, the latter being called Chrests -- from Chrestos, the man of tribulation and sorrow.
The sign of the cross adopted by the Latin Church was phallic from the beginning, while that of the Greeks was the cross of the Neophytes, the Chrestoi.
The Svastika is always placed -- as the ansated cross was in Egypt -- on the breast of the defunct Mystics. It is found on the heart of the images and statues of Buddha, in Tibet and Mongolia. It is the seal placed also on the hearts of the living Initiates, burnt into the flesh forever with some. This, because they have to keep these truths inviolate and intact, in eternal silence and secrecy to the day they are perceived and read by their chosen successors -- new Initiates -- "worthy of being entrusted with the ten thousand perfections."
(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:
We sometimes -- perhaps often -- feel our weakness, as we think. But the weakness is not that of our real Selves, the inner Man, but of that which we have leaned upon, the false ego. If we remember that we are working with a portion of our powers now, that portion which needs exercise and proper direction, in order to assimilate it with what we really know and are, we will feel more content to await the full blossoming. The point of view from which we regard things determines the kind and quality of action. The keeping in mind that the Masters are not only Ideals, but Facts, and that all that H.P.B. and W.Q.J. have written about Them was for our help and encouragement in the struggles that must be ours brings us closer to Them -- makes us strong with the power that flows from such reliance.
INITIATES AND INITIATION
[Part 5 of an 8-part series]
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(1) Collated from Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine.
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