As Man advances in the scale, he begins to have a somewhat higher conception of the “I.” He begins to use his mind and reason, and he passes on to the Mental Plane–his mind begins to manifest upon the plane of Intellect. He finds that there is something within him that is higher than the body. He finds that his mind seems more real to him than does the physical part of him, and in times of deep thought and study he is able almost to forget the existence of the body.
In this second stage, Man soon becomes perplexed. He finds problems that demand an answer, but as soon as he thinks he has answered them the problems present themselves in a new phase, and he is called upon to “explain his explanation.” The mind, even although not controlled and directed by the Will, has a wonderful range, but, nevertheless, Man finds himself traveling around and around in a circle, and realizes that he is confronted continually by the Unknown. This disturbs him, and the higher the stage of “book learning” he attains, the more disturbed does he become. The man of but little knowledge does not see the existence of many problems that force themselves before the attention of the man of more knowledge, and demand an explanation from him. The tortures of the man who has attained the mental growth that enables him to see the new problems and the impossibility of their answer, cannot be imagined by one who has not advanced to that stage.
The man in this stage of consciousness thinks of his “I” as a mental thing, having a lower companion, the body. He feels that he has advanced, but yet his “I” does not give him the answer to the riddles and questions that perplex him. And he becomes most unhappy. Such men often develop into Pessimists, and consider the whole of life as utterly evil and disappointing–a curse rather than a blessing. Pessimism belongs to this plane, for neither the Physical Plane man or the Spiritual Plane man have this curse of Pessimism. The former man has no such disquieting thoughts, for he is almost entirely absorbed in gratifying his animal nature, while the latter man recognizes his mind as an instrument of himself, rather than as himself, and knows it to be imperfect in its present stage of growth. He knows that he has in himself the key to all knowledge–locked up in the Ego–and which the trained mind, cultivated, developed and guided by the awakened Will, may grasp as it unfolds.
Knowing this the advanced man no longer despairs, and, recognizing his real nature, and his possibilities, as he awakens into a consciousness of his powers and capabilities, he laughs at the old despondent, pessimistic ideas, and discards them like a worn-out garment. Man on the Mental Plane of consciousness is like a huge elephant who knows not his own strength. He could break down barriers and assert himself over nearly any condition or environment, but in his ignorance of his real condition and power he may be mastered by a puny driver, or frightened by the rustling of a piece of paper.
When the Candidate becomes an Initiate–when he passes from the purely Mental Plane on to the Spiritual Plane–he realizes that the “I,” the Real Self–is something higher than either body or mind, and that both of the latter may be used as tools and instruments by the Ego or “I.” This knowledge is not reached by purely intellectual reasoning, although such efforts of the mind are often necessary to help in the unfoldment, and the Masters so use it. The real knowledge, however, comes as a special form of consciousness. The Candidate becomes “aware” of the real “I,” and this consciousness being attained, he passes to the rank of the Initiates. When the Initiate passes the second degree of consciousness, and begins to grow into a realization of his relationship to the Whole–when he begins to manifest the Expansion of Self–then is he on the road to Mastership.
In the present lesson we shall endeavor to point out to the Candidate the methods of developing or increasing the realization of this “I” consciousness–this first degree work. We give the following exercises or development drills for the Candidate to practice. He will find that a careful and conscientious following of these directions will tend to unfold in him a sufficient degree of the “I” consciousness, to enable him to enter into higher stages of development and power. All that is necessary is for the Candidate to feel within himself the dawn of the awakening consciousness, or awareness of the Real Self. The higher stages of the “I” consciousness come gradually, for once on the Path there is no retrogression or going backward. There may be pauses on the journey, but there is no such thing as actually losing that which is once gained on The Path.
This “I” consciousness, even in its highest stages, is but a preliminary step toward what is called “Illumination,” and which signifies the awakening of the Initiate to a realization of his actual connection with and relation to the Whole. The full sight of the glory of the “I,” is but a faint reflected glow of “Illumination.” The Candidate, once that he enters fully into the “I” consciousness, becomes an “Initiate.” And the Initiate who enters into the dawn of Illumination takes his first step upon the road to Mastery. The Initiation is the awakening of the soul to a knowledge of its real existence–the Illumination is the revelation of the real nature of the soul, and of its relationship with the Whole. After the first dawn of the “I” consciousness has been attained, the Candidate is more able to grasp the means of developing the consciousness to a still higher degree–is more able to use the powers latent within him; to control his own mental states; to manifest a Centre of Consciousness and Influence that will radiate into the outer world which is always striving and hunting for such centres around which it may revolve.
Man must master himself before he can hope to exert an influence beyond himself. There is no royal road to unfoldment and power–each step must be taken in turn, and each Candidate must take the step himself, and by his own effort. But he may, and will, be aided by the helping hand of the teachers who have traveled The Path before him, and who know just when that helping hand is needed to lift the Candidate over the rough places.
We bid the Candidate to pay strict attention to the following instruction, as it is all important. Do not slight any part of it, for we are giving you only what is necessary, and are stating it as briefly as possible. Pay attention, and follow the instruction closely. This lesson must be mastered before you progress. And it must be practiced not only now, but at many stages of the journey, until full Initiation and Illumination is yours.
RULES AND EXERCISES DESIGNED TO AID THE CANDIDATE IN HIS INITIATION.
The first instruction along the line of Initiation is designed to awaken the mind to a full realization and consciousness of the individuality of the “I.” The Candidate is taught to relax his body, and to calm his mind and to meditate upon the “I” until it is presented clearly and sharply before the consciousness. We herewith give directions for producing the desired physical and mental condition, in which meditation and concentration are more readily practiced. This state of Meditation will be referred to in subsequent exercises, so the Candidate is advised to acquaint himself thoroughly with it.