THE AWAKENING OF THE CENTRES
The question now arises: How can this awakening and co-ordination be brought about? What steps must be taken in order to produce this vitalisation and the eventual synthetic activity of the three centres? Faced with these questions, the true teacher finds a difficulty. It is not easy to make clear the esoteric and paralleling activities which are the result of character building. So oft the aspirant is anxious to be told some new thing and when he is told some old truth—so old and so familiar that it fails to call forth a registering response—he feels that the teacher has failed him and so succumbs to a sense of futility and depression. However, this must be met and the questions must be answered. I will state therefore the necessary requirements as succinctly as possible, giving them in their sequential order and according to their importance from the standpoint of the average aspirant. Let us then enumerate them in tabulated form, and then we will deal briefly with each point afterwards.
1. Character building, the first and essential requisite.
2. Right motive.
5. A technical study of the science of the centres.
6. Breathing exercises.
7. Learning the technique of the Will.
8. The development of the power to employ time.
9. The arousing of the Kundalini fire.
This last and ninth point will not be considered at this stage of our training. The reason is obvious. Most aspirants are at the stage of the third and fourth points and are just beginning to work at the fifth and sixth. Let us touch briefly upon each of these necessary steps, and let me enjoin upon you the need there is to realise in some measure the responsibility entailed by knowledge. Do you appreciate the fact that if you were making full use of each piece of information given in the course of the training, and making it a fact in your experience, and were living out in your daily life the teaching so steadily imparted, you would be standing ere now before the Portal of Initiation? Do you realise that truth has to be wrought out in the texture of daily living before new truth can be safely imparted?
1. Character building. These nine points are to be studied from their force aspect, and not from their ethical or spiritual import. It is the "world of force into which the initiate enters," and it is the training he receives as an aspirant that makes such a step possible. Each of us enters life with a certain equipment—the product of past lives of endeavour and of experience. That equipment has in it certain deficiencies or lacks, and is seldom of a balanced nature. One man is too mental. Another is too psychic. A third is primarily physical, and still another is too mystical. One man is sensitive, irritable, and impressionable. Another is the reverse of all these qualities. One person is centred in  his animal nature, or is strictly material in his outlook on life, whilst another is visionary and free from the sins of the flesh. The diversities among men are innumerable, but in each life there is a predominant trend towards which all the energies of his nature turn. Perhaps he is swayed strongly by his physical forces and lives consequently the life of an animal. Or he is swayed by astral energy and lives a potently emotional and psychic life. Perhaps—like so many—he is swayed by three types of energy, physical, emotional and an occasional flow of soul energy. The point to be remembered is that the bodies in which we, as souls, are functioning, constitute primarily energy bodies. They are composed of energy units, atoms in a state of constant flux and movement and find their place in an environment of a similar nature. Acting as the positive nucleus in these energy bodies, and at present, in the majority of cases relatively static, is the soul. It exerts as yet little pressure upon its sheaths and identifies itself with them, thus temporarily negating its own intrinsic life.
The day comes, however, when the soul awakens to the need of dominating the situation and of asserting its own authority. Then the man (spasmodically at the beginning) takes stock of the situation. He has to discover first which type of energy preponderates and is the motivating force in his daily experience. Having discovered this, he begins to re-organize, to re-orient and to re-build his bodies. The whole of this teaching can be summed up in two words: Vice and Virtue.
Vice is the energy of the sheaths, individual or synthesised in the personality, as it controls the life activities and subordinates the soul to the sheaths and to the impulses and tendencies of the lower self.
Virtue is the calling in of new energies and of a new vibratory rhythm so that the soul becomes the positive controlling factor and the soul forces supersede those of  the bodies. This process is that of character building. Let me illustrate! A man is the victim of an irritable and nervous disposition. We say to him that he needs to be calm and peaceful and to cultivate detachment and so gain control of himself. We teach him that in place of a cross disposition there should be sweetness and calm. This sounds a platitude and most uninteresting. Yet what is really being stated is that in place of the restless self-centered emotional nature and the activity of the solar plexus centre (carrying the powerful forces of the astral plane) there should be imposed the steady detached and harmonising rhythm of the soul, the higher self. This work of imposing the higher vibration on the lower is character building, the first pre-requisite upon the Path of Probation. On reading this the earnest student can begin to sum up his energy assets; he can tabulate the forces which he feels control his life, and thus arrive at a reasonable and truthful understanding of the forces which require to be subordinated and those which require to be strengthened. Then in the light of true knowledge, let him go forward upon the path of his destiny.
2. Right Motive. The Master of the Wisdom, we are told, is the "rare efflorescence of a generation of enquirers." The question which the seeker now asks and which he only has the right to answer is: What is the motive governing my aspiration and my endeavour? Why do I seek to build upon a true foundation? Why do I so diligently invoke my soul?
The development of right motive is a progressive effort, and constantly one shifts the focus of one's incentive when one discovers himself, as the Light shines ever more steadily upon one's way, and constantly a newer and higher motive emerges. Again, let me illustrate: An aspirant in the early stages is practically always a devotee. To measure up to the standard set by a loved friend and teacher, he struggles and strives and gains  ground. Later, this object of his devotion and ardent effort is superseded by devotion to one of the Great Ones, the Elder Brothers of the race. He bends all his powers and the forces of his nature to Their service. This incentive is, in its turn, surely and steadily superseded by a vital love for humanity, and love of one individual (be he ever so perfect) is lost sight of in love for the whole brotherhood of men. Unceasingly, as the soul takes more and more control of its instrument and the soul nature steadily manifests, this too is superseded by love of the ideal, of the Plan, and of the purposes underlying the universe itself. The man comes to know himself as naught but a channel through which spiritual agencies can work, and realises himself as a corporate part of the One Life. Then he sees even humanity as relative and fractional, and becomes immersed in the great Will.
3. Service. A study of right motive leads naturally to right service, and often parallels in its objective form, the motivating consciousness. From service to an individual as an expression of love, to the family, or to the nation, there grows service to a member of the Hierarchy, to a Master's group and thence service to humanity. Eventually there is developed a consciousness of and service of the Plan, and a consecration to the underlying purpose of the great Existence Who has brought all into being for the fulfillment of some specific objective.
4. Meditation. Upon this matter we will not enlarge as it has formed the basis of much of the teaching in my other books and many of you are working steadily upon the work of meditation. I have placed it fourth upon the list, for meditation is dangerous and unprofitable to the man who enters upon it without the basis of a good character and of clean living. Meditation then becomes only a medium for the bringing in of energies which but serve to stimulate the undesirable aspects of his life, just  as the fertilising of a garden full of weeds will produce a stupendous crop of them, and so crush out the weak and tiny flowers. Meditation is dangerous where there is wrong motive, such as desire for personal growth and for spiritual powers, for it produces, under these conditions only a strengthening of the shadows in the vale of illusion and brings to full growth the serpent of pride, lurking in the valley of selfish desire. Meditation is dangerous when the desire to serve is lacking. Service is another word for the utilisation of soul force for the good of the group. Where this impulse is lacking, energy may pour into the bodies, but—lacking use and finding no outlet—will tend to over-stimulate the centres, and produce conditions disastrous to the neophyte. Assimilation and elimination are laws of the soul life as well as of the physical life, and when this simple law is disregarded serious consequences will follow as inevitably as in the physical body.
5. Study of the centres. This we are now beginning. It is a study as yet in its infancy in the West, and little applied in the East. Our approach will be somewhat new, for though we will accustom ourselves to the names, locations and relationships of the centres we shall do no meditation work upon them. Eventually we shall arrive at an appreciation of their vibration, of their tone and colours and of the astrological significances. We shall not work with the centres down the spinal column, nor aim at their conscious utilisation as does the clairvoyant and clairaudient person. All the work done by students must be done entirely in the head and from the head. There is the seat of the Will, or Spirit aspect, working through the soul. There also is the synthetic expression of the personality, and in the understanding of the relation of the two head centres and their mutual interplay will come gradually the domination of the personality by the soul. This will lead to the consequent and subsequent  guided activity of the five other centres. The work in these five centres will eventually be as automatic as the present functioning of the heart and the lungs in the physical body.
The presiding Intelligence, the Self, "seated on the throne between the eyebrows" and guided by the Light in the head will be awake to the interests of the soul and as alert as is the 'I' consciousness of the average self-centered man. By the rhythm of his divine life and by his conscious cooperation with the Plan, and functioning through the use of the Will, must the disciple in incarnation act as the agent of his soul in the three worlds.
6. Breathing Exercises. Little by little as progress is made will the needed instruction be imparted. Let me point out however that no breathing exercises can be safely used where there is no attempt to impose rhythm upon the life of every day. The two activities must go hand in hand.
The effect of breathing exercises is varied:
a. There is an oxygenating effect. The blood stream is purified and pressure is relieved. A symbolism underlies this:—for as the blood is oxygenated so is the life of the man in the three worlds permeated by spiritual energy.
b. There is the imposition of a peculiar rhythm, brought about by the particular spacing and time limit of the breaths—inhalation, retention, and exhalation—and this will vary according to the counts.
c. There is a subtle effect of prana (which is the subjective element underlying the air breathed in and out) which affects most potently the body of prana, the vital or etheric body. Students should remember that subtle effects are more powerful than the physical effects. They produce results  in two directions; on the physical body and on the etheric body. The entire vital body assumes a particular rhythm according to the breathing exercises. This kept up for a long period of time will have a shattering or a cohesive effect upon the physical body, and devitalise or vitalise the etheric body correspondingly.
d. There is the effect upon the centres, which is most effectual and which follows the trend of the aspirant's thought. If, for instance, a man thinks upon the solar plexus, that centre will inevitably be vitalised and his emotional nature be strengthened. Hence the need for students to hold their meditation steady in the head and so awaken the head centre.
Let no one doubt the effect of breathing exercises upon the vital body. As surely as eating and drinking build or destroy the physical body, and aid or hinder its right functioning, so do breathing exercises produce potent effects, if rightly used over a long enough period of time.
And what shall I say about the last three requirements? Nothing much, for the time is not yet ripe for their correct understanding. Step by step must the aspirant proceed and his theory must not persistently run ahead of his experience. Perhaps I can give the clue to each of these three through the formulation of a simple rule for daily living. This will be grasped by those for whom it is intended and will not work harm to the unevolved. This rule, when followed will bring about, gently and subjectively, the necessary conditions for the manifestation of the requirement.
Learn to use the will through the development of steady purpose and the organising of the daily life, so that that purpose may reach fulfillment.
Learn to do something else with time besides organise  it and use it. Learn to do several things simultaneously, and utilise therefore all the three bodies synchronously. Let me illustrate:—When you are practicing your daily breathing exercise keep your count with accuracy, listen attentively for the sound that "soundeth in the silence" of the interlude. At the same time think of yourself as the soul, the imposer of rhythm, and the voice that speaks. This is something which can be acquired by practice by each of you.
Discover the serpent of illusion by the help of the serpent of wisdom and then will the sleeping serpent mount upwards to the place of meeting.