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It would be advisable for the student to read with care the commentary on this rule as given in the Treatise on Cosmic Fire.  It will be noted how extremely abstruse it is and how full of almost blind occult information.  This should however be studied.  The word "astral plane" should also be looked up and a general idea gained as to its nature and its function as the battle-ground of the senses, and as the place from which magic is wrought.  The intelligent and constructive desire of the white magician, acting under the instruction of his own soul and therefore occupied with group work, is the motivating power back of all magical phenomena.  This magical work is begun in the magician's own life, extends to the world of the astral plane and from thence (when potent there) can begin to demonstrate on the physical plane and on the higher planes eventually.

We shall, therefore, take a good deal of time over this rule for it covers the immediate work and activity of the intelligent aspirant.  It is the most important in the book from the standpoint of the average student.  It cannot be understood where there is no soul contact, nor can the magical force of the soul work out in manifestation upon the physical plane until the meaning of its esoteric phrases has been somewhat wrought out in the inner experience of the magician.

Most true aspirants are now at the midway spot, and can either drown (and so make no further progress this life), stand and so hold the ground gained, or become true practicing magicians, efficient in white magic, which is [236] based on love, animated by wisdom and intelligently applied to forms.

We will, therefore, divide this rule into several parts, the more easily to study it and take them up step by step, so as to grasp their application to the average life of the probationary disciple, and to gain a wise understanding of their wide implications.

These three divisions are:

1. The response of the astral elementals and the consequent ebb and flow of the waters.

2. The dangers of the midway spot, its nature and the opportunity it affords.

3. The place where magic is wrought.

We will study now the first point which is summed up for us in the words:

"The Agnisuryans respond to the sound.

The waters ebb and flow."

The situation might be stated in the following terse statements.  The rules already studied convey the truth anent the magician.

1. The soul has communicated with his instrument in the three worlds.

2. The man on the physical plane recognises the contact, and the light in the head shines forth, sometimes recognised and sometimes unrecognised by the aspirant.

3. The soul sounds forth its note.  A thought-form is created in consonance with the united meditation of the soul and the man, his instrument.

4. This thought-form, embodying the will of the ego or soul, cooperating with the personality, takes to itself a triple form, constituted of the matter of all three planes, and vitalized through the activity and by the emanations from the heart, throat and [237] ajna centres of the white magician—the soul in conjunction with its instrument.

5. The personality sheaths, each with its own individual life, feel they are losing their power and the battle between the forces of matter and the force of the soul is violently renewed.

6. This battle must be fought out on the astral plane and will decide three things:

a. Whether the soul will, in any one life (for some life holds the critical stage), be the dominant factor and the personality from henceforth be the servant of the soul.

b. Whether the astral plane is no longer the plane of illusion, but can become the field of service.

c. Whether the man can become an active co-operator with the Hierarchy, able to create and to wield mental matter, and so work out the purposes of the Universal Mind, which are prompted by boundless and infinite love, and are the expression of the One Life.

This is the crux of the entire situation, and when the man has mastered the forces opposed to him, he is ready for the second initiation which marks the release of the soul from the prison of the astral body.  Henceforth the soul will use the astral body, and mould desire into line with divine purpose.

It is of value for the student to know where he stands and what his particular problem is.  The average man is learning the control of the physical body and the organizing of his physical plane life.  The student on the probationary path is learning a similar lesson in relation to his astral body, its focus, its desires and its work.  The student on the path of accepted discipleship has to demonstrate this control and begin to discipline the mind nature and so function consciously in the mental body.  [238] The work of the initiate and the adept grows out of these achievements and they need not be dealt with here.

The battle is spread over quite a series of lives, but in some one life it becomes critical; the final stand is made and Arjuna triumphs in the fight, but only by letting Krishna assume the reins of control, by learning mind control and by the revelation of the form of God.  By distinguishing between the soul and the form, and by a vision of the perfection of the glory which can radiate from the forms "indwelt by God", he learns to choose the Way of light and to see his form and all forms as custodians of the light.  So he buckles down to the work of making the astral body simply a reflector of that light and by the quelling of desire, through the subjugation of the "Agnisuryans" who constitute his astral body and are the living substance of the astral plane, he learns to function as an adept on that plane, to pierce through its illusion and to see life true.

Speaking symbolically the substance of the astral plane is animated by three types of divine force, which, when brought together, produce the great Illusion.  These are:

First, the force of selfish desire.  This involutionary energy plays a big part in bringing about evolution, for selfishness is the nursery of infant souls.  Hence the aspirant refuses to be held by it.

Second, the force of fear.  This is the product of ignorance, and in its initial stages it is not the product of wrong thinking.  It is basically instinctual and is found dominating in the non-mental animal kingdom as well as in the human kingdom.  But in the human, its power is increased potently through the powers of the mind, and through memory of past pain and grievance and through anticipation of those we foresee, the power of fear is enormously aggravated by the thought-form we ourselves have built of our own individual fears and [239] phobias.  This thought form grows in power as we pay attention to it, for "energy follows thought" till we become dominated by it.  Second ray people are peculiarly a prey to this.  For the majority of them it constitutes the "dweller on the threshold", just as ambition and love of power, backed by frantic desire and unscrupulousness form the "Dweller" for the first ray types.  The crystallized thought form of intellectual achievement for selfish ends, and the use of knowledge for personality objectives stand before the portal of the path in the case of the third ray person, and unless broken up and destroyed will dominate him and turn him into a black magician.

You oft have been told that fear is an illusion.  Yet this statement does not help.  It is a generalisation that one can admit, yet which remains profoundly difficult to apply individually.  The fears to which aspirants are subject (note the mode of wording this) are seldom of a selfish nature except insofar as suffering has caused them to recoil from a further continuation of untoward happenings.  Their fears are wrapt in seeming love around their loved ones.  Yet should each disciple ask himself a most practical question:  How many of the torturing hours have been expended on realities and on tangible happenings, and how many on illusory premonitions and on doubts and questionings, based on that which has never happened?  I would like to point out to my brothers that they need to do two things:  To meditate on truth in daily life, using the concept of truth practised and lived by as their seed thought in meditation; to this end I would suggest that they memorise and use at all times when swept by illusory fears and needless foreboding the following formula or prayer:

"Let reality govern my every thought, and truth be the master of my life."

Let each say this to himself as constantly as need requires, [240] forcing his mind to focus attention upon the significance of these spoken words.

I would suggest also sound common sense and the cultivation of an attitude of mind which refuses to permit time for illusory fears to grow.

Fear is the main obstacle frequently to a very vital step forward which could be taken in this life, but may have to be delayed to another if due opportunity is not taken and the will nature powerfully excited.

The first ray aspirant who fails to overcome his Dweller may become a "destroyer of souls", as it is called, and be condemned (until he learns his lesson) to work in the forces of matter, and with the forms which hold all souls in prison.  This is the occult significance of the misunderstood words, death and destruction.  Of this type, the Devil is the great prototype.

The second ray aspirant who builds his Dweller and permits its steady and increasing control becomes a "deluder of souls".  He is the true Anti-Christ, and through false teaching and the working of so-called miracles, through hypnotism and mass suggestion he draws a veil over the world and forces men to walk in the great illusion.  It is interesting to note that the work of the Devil, the imprisoner of souls, is beginning to lose its power, for the race is on the verge of understanding that true death is immersion in form, and that matter is but a part of the divine whole.  The thought form of this "Dweller on the Threshold" which humanity has built for millions of years is on the verge of destruction.  But the work of Anti-Christ is only rising now to its height, and the delusion of riches, of possession, of false teaching will increasingly hold sway but the term of the delusion will be shorter than the term of destruction, for all these factors function under their own cycles and have their own ebb and flow.

The third ray person who also fails to shatter his [241] "Dweller" becomes what is called a "manipulator of souls" and uses the mind to destroy the real and to put a veil between the man and reality.  It must be remembered that none of these names and these activities refer to the soul on its own plane but only to human souls in incarnation on the physical plane.  This must be stressed, for on its own plane the souls of all men stand free from illusion, and neither can be destroyed, deluded nor manipulated.  It is only "the souls in prison" who are subject to the activities of the forces of evil and only for a term.  The first group works through governments, through politics, and the interplay between nations and is relatively small in number.  The second ray group who delude and deceive, work through religious agencies, through mass psychology, and the misuse and misapplication of devotion and of the arts.  They are largest in number.  The third group work primarily through commercial relations in the business world, and through the use of money, the concretisation of prana or universal energy, and the outer symbol of the universal flux and flow.  These thoughts are suggestive but not vital, dealing as they do with the cosmic tendencies.

Thirdly, the force of sex attraction.  This is a pull from the physical plane and the swinging back of a type of involutionary energy on to the path of return.  Cosmically speaking, it manifests as the attractive force between spirit and matter; spiritually speaking, it is demonstrated as the activity of the soul, as it seeks to draw the lower self into full realisation.  Physically speaking, it is the urge which tends to unite male and female for the purpose of procreation.  When man was purely animal, no sin was involved.  When to this urge was added emotional desire, then sin crept in, and the purpose for which the urge manifested was perverted into the satisfaction of desire.  Now that the race is more mental, and the force of mind is making itself felt in [242] the human body, an even more serious situation is apparent, which can only be safely worked out when the soul assumes control of its triple instrument.

Humanity is now at the midway point as this rule shows.  Man is swept by selfish desire and by ambition, for all of us have first ray qualities.  He is racked by fear—his own, family fears, national fears and racial, for all of us swing to the rhythm of the second ray.  He is dominated by sex and by money which is another manifestation of the energy of matter and hence has a triple problem with which he is well equipped to deal through the medium of his triple vehicle and the triple potencies of his divine soul.  Let us close the instruction on that note—well equipped to deal.  We can overcome mental inertia and begin to function as souls in command of our environment.  The soul is omniscient and omnipotent.