SECTION ONE - THE ASPIRANT AND THE MYSTERIES OF INITIATION - Part 1
Let us now take up our first point in this section and see what is really meant by the hackneyed words "door of initiation," and what constitutes the difference between the door which faces the disciple and that which confronts the Master.
THE ENTERING OF THE TWO DOORS OF INITIATION
It is of course obvious to you that the use of the word "door" is purely symbolic; the interpretation given to the word by the ordinary esoteric student and the orthodox Theosophist is that of a point of entry, and the significance of it to him is that it offers an opportunity to pass to new experience and fresh revelation—much of which is regarded by him as due reward for discipline and aspiration. That is largely an interpretation based on wishful thinking and is of quite secondary importance.
The Door of Initiation
The real meaning underlying the phrase "door of initiation" is that of obstruction, of something which bars the way, of that which must be opened, or of that which hides or stands between the aspirant and his objective. This is a much more exact significance and one much more useful for  the aspirant to grasp. The picture of a man moving along the Path of Evolution until suddenly one day he stands before an open door through which he may joyously pass has no faintest resemblance to the truth; the idea that a man of a nice disposition and possessing certain character developments such as those portrayed in such books (by Annie Besant) as The Open Court and the Path of Discipleship, which condition the theosophical aspirants, is exceedingly misleading. These books are very useful and should be carefully studied by the man upon the Path of Probation, but are not so useful to the disciple, for they lead him to put the emphasis in the wrong direction and to focus upon that which should already have been developed. Naturally, the character development must be present and assumed to be stable in the man's equipment; these characteristics have, however, little bearing on initiation and passing through the "door" on the Path. They are indicative of the point reached upon the Path of Evolution, as a result of experiment, experience and continuous expression, and should be common to all aspirants who have reached the point of facing discipleship; they are unavoidable developments and connote simply the reaction of the personality to time and experience. It is eternally true that no one may pass through this door unless these character indications are developed, but that is due to the fact that the aspirant has progressed to a certain stage of unfoldment and automatically now has a measure of self-control, of mental understanding and of purity.
I would point out also that even the black magician possesses these qualities, for they are the sine qua non of all magical art, both black and white; the black magician passes through the door of initiation as it opens twice for the first two initiations. He passes through on the strength of his will and his character accomplishments and because the group-conscious aspect of the soul is active in him as in his brother seeking affiliation with the Great White Lodge. The love aspect is, however, lacking in the black magician. Forget not that all is energy and there is nothing else. The energy which  is an aspect of the soul and which we call magnetic attraction (the group-building quality) he shares with the spiritual aspirant. He is essentially group conscious, and though his motives are separative, his methods are those of the group, and these he can get only from the soul.
You see again another reason why the first and second initiations are not regarded by the Lodge of Masters as major initiations. Only the third is so regarded, because at that initiation the entire personality life is flooded with energy coming from the Spiritual Triad, via the "sacrifice petals" of the will and purpose aspect of the soul. To this type of energy the black magician is not responsive. He can and does respond to the knowledge—most ancient and hardly won—stored up in the "knowledge petals" of the souls he can appropriate and utilise the energy of attraction (erroneously called love by some students) stored up in the "love petals" of the soul, but he cannot respond to and use the energy of divine love, working out in the divine Plan which controls all knowledge and converts it into wisdom, and which actuates and clarifies the motive which brings loving magnetic attraction into action and which we call true group consciousness and group cohesion. It is at this point that the two ways—of darkness and of light—become widely divergent. Until the third initiation is taken, glamour may condition the attitude of those seeking to understand the life of a man upon the Path, and they may mistake the spurious for the real. The black magician leads a disciplined life, analogous to that of the spiritual aspirant; he practices purity for his own safeguarding and not in order that he may become a channel for the energy of light; he works with power (the power of magnetic attraction) with and in groups, but he does this for his own selfish ends and for the fulfillment of his own ambitious purposes. But at the third initiation there comes to the true spiritual initiate the revelation which is the reward of perseverance and purity rightly motivated—the revelation of the divine purpose, as the soul records it in terms of the hierarchical plan, though not yet in terms of the Monad. To this purpose and  to the loving Will of God (to use a trite Christian phrase) the black brother cannot respond; his aims are different. You have here the true meaning of the oft-used and misunderstood phrase, "the parting of the ways."
But both groups of aspirants (the black and the white) stand before the door of initiation and take the needed steps to open it on two similar occasions. Both overcome glamour after the second initiation, and see their way clearly ahead; but their goals emerge as widely different; one treads the broad way which leads ever deeper into matter and materialism, into darkness and "black power"; the other leads to the straight and narrow way, to the razor-edged path which leads into light and life. One group has never freed itself from the principles which governed the first solar system. They were principles entirely related to matter and substance, and were at that time and in that period (so remote that the number of years of distance can be stated only in super-astronomical figures) the conditioning factors for the initiation of the time. Certain units of humanity—then existent—were so completely conditioned by these material principles and so deliberately unready for moving on to the comprehension of another set of principles (more expressive of the divine nature) that they remained of "fixed and selfish material purpose" and a planned distortion of the divine will was intelligently created by them. You have here a hint as to the nature of evil and a clue to a part (though only a part) of the mystery to be noted in the statement that evil and good are reverse aspects of the same one reality, and evil is that good which we should have left behind, passing on to greater and more inclusive good. Forget not that the black magicians of today were the initiates of a previous solar system. When the door of initiation is ready to open for the third time, the parting of the ways takes place. Some follow selfish intention and the fixed determination to remain with the separative condition of matter; and to others, the divine will is clearly impressed upon them and becomes the motivating power in their lives. It was under instructions from the Great White Lodge on Sirius that the door remains  closed the third time to the dark brothers. Evil, as we understand it, has absolutely no place on Sirius.
To the black magician, at this third opportunity, the door of initiation presents an insuperable barrier and obstacle; to the true spiritual neophyte, the door connotes "overcoming." We shall not consider further the approach of the black brothers to that door, but shall confine ourselves to a consideration of the initiations of the Great White Lodge.
This door of initiation is connected with the great problem of what H.P.B. calls the "mystery of electricity"; the door is itself an electrical phenomenon essentially. Having said this, even if you do not understand my meaning, you can, however, grasp the possibility that (being electrical in nature) it can easily present an obstructing force, a repelling energy to the approach of the aspirant; this is the correct way to look at it. It is only when the electrical energy of which the door is constituted and that of which the man is constructed at any particular time synchronise and vibrate in unison that the aspirant can pass through to greater light. This gives you a somewhat new and rather abstruse definition of initiation. Nevertheless, as science arrives at a better understanding of the human being as an electrical unit of power and light, and of his triple mechanism as created of three aspects of electricity, a truer comprehension of the significance of initiation will eventuate. The three fires of which all things are made are electrical in nature and—speaking symbolically—it is only when "fire by friction" is dominated by "solar fire" that the first four initiations can be taken, culminating in the fifth initiation in which these two fires are subordinated to "electric fire" emanating from the monad and giving a new revelation. This monadic process begins at the third initiation. It might be added that the third initiation (culminating in the Transfiguration) is taken on the three higher levels of the mental plane, and that it is therefore upon the fourth level of the mental plane that the aspirant first of all stands before the door, seeking initiation. That electrical unit or phenomenon of electricity  which we call the fourth kingdom in nature, on this fourth subplane of the mental plane esoterically "ejects" the unit of electricity which is ready to be absorbed by the higher form of electricity. Fire by friction dies out and solar fire takes its place, and the relationship between the two higher forms of electricity becomes established.
It is solar fire which forms and likewise guards the door of initiation for the first four initiations. It is the electrical fire which forms the door of initiation for those initiations which guard the Way to the Higher Evolution.
There are four types of fire by friction which create the "obstructing door" in unison with solar fire, of which it is essentially created. These are as follows:
1. Electrical energy, composed of two forces of electricity: the innate, inert and latent force of the physical plane atoms of the dense physical vehicle, and the force which we call prana which is an aspect of the energy composing the etheric body. These two blend, combine and form the "door" through which the spiritual man must pass then he undergoes the first initiation. This provocative energy tests out every part of his physical equipment and—as he passes the test—the door opens, the opposing energies symbolically "die out," and he can pass on to the Path of Initiation, free from that type of obstruction. The physical body no longer rules him, either through its limitations and faults or through the physical disciplines which have been hitherto needed but are no longer required.
2. The electrical energy of the astral or emotional body next confronts him as he prepares to take the second initiation. You can call this energy, if you so choose, the sum total of all the glamours; a glamour is essentially a bewildering, deceiving and illusory energy-form which seeks to sidetrack and mislead the neophyte and which is attracted to him by ancient habit and old controls. He is therefore responsible for the impact of this energy. This type of energy takes form, and the massed forms of these glamours constitute the opposing door and oppose the passing of the  aspirant on to the next phase of the Path. With this electrical energy he must deal before he takes the second initiation. These particular energies are not thoughtforms; they are drifting, undefined and exceedingly fluid. Of this type of energy water is the symbol, and this is one reason why this second initiation is called the Baptism initiation, or the initiation of "entering the stream."
3. The electrical energy of the mind now creates the door for the third initiation, and the obstruction which confronts the initiate is that of the electrical figments of his own thinking, shining with a light which is all their own (for they are of the highest order and type), but veiling the pure light which shines behind them. They constitute the sumtotal of illusion. This "door" is formed by the coming together of the three types of energy: fire by friction, solar fire (playing in full force at this third initiation), and electrical fire from the Spiritual Triad, making its first impact on the other two fires, for all three are in full activity at this initiatory crisis. All are localised and concentrated in that symbol of progress, the "door of initiation."
It should be becoming increasingly clear to you why the initiate is ever portrayed as one who works with the forces and energies of the planet and the system. To him, there is naught else.
4. The fourth type of "fire by friction" which confronts the initiate as he stands prepared for that initiation which we call the Great Renunciation is the electric energy of the entire integrated personality. That which is the product of every incarnation—the highly developed, powerful and "clear-eyed" personality (as it is called)—is the final event and presents the final great obstruction.
In the Gospel story there are two major episodes in the life of the Master Jesus which throw some light upon this fourth entrance through the door of initiation: the Transfiguration and the Crucifixion. In both of them the three aspects of the personality are symbolised. In the first case, they are symbolised by the three apostles who in bewilderment and profound humility took part in the third initiation,  the Transfiguration; in the second case, the three were depicted by the three Crosses—the two thieves and the central Master. The difference in the fourth initiation is definite; it lies in the fact that the four aspects of the personality (counting the dense physical body as one aspect and the etheric vehicle as a second aspect of the physical body) are involved, for this fourth emanation of fire by friction has a potent and destructive effect upon the dense physical body. The Great Renunciation involves the rejection of the physical life at any cost, and that cost frequently involves its physical death.
The Great Renunciation or fourth initiation has, therefore, two aspects: the outer involvement or objective happening in the eyes of the physical plane onlooker, and the subjective aspect, portrayed symbolically by the three Crosses and those who hung upon them.
The implications emerging out of this symbolism are not easy to see, even when the superficial meaning is apparent, because that superficial meaning hides and veils a universal reality. The Master Jesus passed through the door of the fourth initiation and overcame the final hindrances offered by His perfected personality. He died upon the Cross. All the four aspects of His personality participated in the event, and all four aspects electrically obstructed His passing though this door, even to the point of their complete destruction—bringing a final liberation. Something universal was also symbolised which had naught to do with the Initiated Master Jesus.
This symbolism and its meaning are related to the three Crosses which stood side by side and to the relationship between those who hung upon them. In the three figures humanity itself is portrayed and also related to the Hierarchy, and this "pictorial event" is a parallel to the one already considered—the initiation of the Master Jesus. In the Crucifixion, in this fourth passing through the door of initiation and in the staging of this event, two great and different individualities—the Master Jesus and the World Saviour, the Christ—are implicated; two major happenings  are indicated, and the Christian Church has confused the two and related both of them without discrimination to the Master Jesus. Yet one event was a hierarchical occurrence and the other was a great human crisis; one was the entrance of an initiate into the Mysteries of death, involving in the process all the four aspects of His nature; the other was a dramatic portrayal to mankind of three groups to be found within the human family:
1. Unregenerate man, pictured by the unrepentant thief.
2. The struggling aspirant, moving consciously towards liberation, symbolised for us in the repentant thief.
3. The Hierarchy, composed of all who have passed to liberation through the medium of human experience, and thereby representing to us a guarantee of achievement.
Students would do well to keep this fourfold picture and this threefold symbol clearly distinguished in their minds, for individual attainment and the group possibilities are both involved; each is, however, distinct; in the one case the Master Jesus is the participator, and in the other and the more esoteric occurrence it is the One Who overshadows Him, the Christ. It was the Master Jesus who "died" and entered into the tomb, thus climaxing His long series of incarnations and ending—by destruction—the hold of matter on the spirit; through the tomb He passed into the Hierarchy, and the destiny of the Christian Church was committed to Him; that destiny still lies in His hands. But in the Gospel story, it is the Christ Who is indicated as appearing after the resurrection and not the Master Jesus, except in the one brief episode wherein He appeared to Mary, weeping outside the door of the sepulchre. The other episodes are universal in their implications, as indicated by:
1. Christ walking with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus—a symbol of the essential dualism of spirit and matter, as embodied in a world Saviour.
2. Christ appearing to the disciples in the upper room,  symbolising the zodiac, for Judas Iscariot was there, standing for the sign at the time in power; the other eleven disciples representing the remaining signs through which the sun must pass.
3. Pentecost. This event does not portray the triumph of orthodox Christianity (as the theologians believe and teach), but signifies the universal dissemination of the Christ consciousness throughout all time in the heart of every human being; to this the words and promise, "Lo, I am with you all the days, even until the end of the world," bear witness.
It is owing to the deeply esoteric meaning of the Resurrection and the Ascension and their major significance, referring to the consciousness of the Christ, that nothing much is told us about these initiations in The New Testament, except the vaguest generalities, in contradistinction to the wealth of detail given anent the other four initiations. Four of these initiations are related to the "door of initiation" as occultly understood and with the interpretation of which we are familiar; these four are related also to the electrical "fire by friction" of which that door is constructed, and which spreads to and creates the burning ground across which the initiate must four times move in order to "enter through that door."
The other two initiations (vaguely called the Resurrection and the Ascension) are related to the second so-called "door." This door is not in the same sense an obstruction as is the first door; it opens on to the Way of the Higher Evolution. The first door symbolically admits the initiate into the "heart of the Sun," whilst the second door—in a most mysterious sense—indicates the route which must be followed by the liberated initiate who seeks to penetrate to the Central Spiritual Sun—to which all the seven Paths eventually lead.
The Door to the Way of the Higher Evolution
I write not for those initiates who have taken the third initiation, whose personality is soul-dominated and who  "walk ever in the light." It will therefore be obvious that there is relatively little that I can say at this point which will be comprehensible, as far as the true meaning goes, to you who have not as yet achieved that state. The key to your understanding lies in the realisation that our seven planes are only the seven subplanes of the cosmic physical plane, and that all that now transpires in the life of the initiate simply releases him from physical experience (technically physical, even on the atmic, monadic and logoic planes), into that vortex of force which we know and understand as LOVE, or onto the cosmic astral plane. The note, the quality and the influence of the cosmic astral plane is love—the higher correspondence of emotion as experienced upon the astral plane of the planetary or solar manifestation. It is therefore to be realised that the Hierarchy is definitely under the impact of energies emanating from the cosmic astral plane, whilst Shamballa reacts to influences coming from the cosmic mental plane. The related stream of energy can therefore be seen to be from:
1. The cosmic astral plane.
2. The solar buddhic plane, reflected in our planetary buddhic plane.
3. The astral plane, the plane of glamour in the three worlds.
In relation to the mind, you have:
1. The cosmic mental plane.
2. The solar atmic plane, reflected in our planetary atmic plane.
3. The mental plane, the plane of illusion.
In connection with the references to glamour and illusion, (see Glamour: a World Problem ) it must be borne in mind that the reason glamour predominates and illusion functions in the three worlds is due to the fact that men identify themselves with the dense physical brain, and interpret life in terms of experience in the three worlds. There is no true astral plane, from the angle of personality identifications, but only what might be regarded as the figments of the imagination; yet fundamentally and sub-standing what  we know as the astral plane is the reflection of the cosmic principle of love. However, being essentially a reflection, it lacks basic reality from the angle of the true disciple and must be ignored as an expression of fundamental truth; at the same time, the astral plane exists from the angle of the Master, because it is an expression in dense physical cosmic substance of cosmic love. Its potency is, however, so great that it produces glamour in those who are not yet liberated. Students should remember that focussed power produces glamour where wrong identification is involved, but only reality and truth where there is freedom from the factor of form life. Therefore, temporarily, there is no astral plane for the disciple who is withdrawing identification; there is a field of service for the Master Who has no longer the power to identify His consciousness with anything in the three worlds; He can, however, relate cosmic sources with planetary and solar expressions of energy.
As we study the whole subject of initiation and the advanced initiations, it will be found necessary to remember always the relation of our seven planes to the cosmic range of planes. It is necessary also to bear in mind a fact oft forgotten, but which has been known and taught ever since modern occultism began to influence human thinking: the four planes which connote the highest possible spiritual influences, as far as humanity is concerned, are only—in the last analysis—the four etheric subplanes of the cosmic physical plane. These highest planes of our planetary life are, therefore, the source of all energy and all originating activity in our entire planetary expression and experience. These four planes are (as you already know):
1. The highest plane...Logoic plane...Will
(Adi) Life 1st aspect
2. The monadic plane...Universal...Love
Human monads 2nd aspect
3. The atmic plane...3rd aspect...Intelligence
4. The buddhic plane...Pure reason...Intuition
This 4th or buddhic is a fusion of 2 and 3, of love and  intelligence, and produces understanding and intuitive perception.
All influences and energies, therefore, which are prevalent in our planetary existence, flow through and create the four above-mentioned planes and thus determine the nature of the evolutionary process at any given time in the three worlds. From the standpoint of a Master, the four planes are composed of forces which are basically responsive to, and finally conditioned by, the energies wielded by the Hierarchy and directed by Shamballa. In a peculiar manner, and under the Law of Correspondences, the three lower planes—mental, emotional and physical—constitute the three dense physical subplanes of the cosmic physical plane and are not, consequently, regarded as embodying principles. H.P.B. says, in connection with our physical plane (the lowest subplane of the cosmic physical plane), that it is not a principle, and this holds good also for the greater whole. The dense physical plane is matter conditioned by a previous solar system, and is almost automatic in its response to etheric energies; these constitute the etheric bodies of all forms created out of this "unprincipled substance," as it is occultly called.
The three lower planes of our seven planes are, from the angle of the esotericist, the equally unprincipled dense cosmic substance; the mark or indication of the true initiate is the transfer of his life and his point of identification from unprincipled substance and substantial forms to "principled" substance and etheric forms. The tendency of the occult student to think ever in terms of spiritual abstraction can (and often does) militate against a grasp of the truth and presents a false picture to the intelligence; the facts which I have just emphasised have much to do with the nature of the higher initiations. I would ask you to remember this.
The third initiation, therefore, releases the initiate from the planes of unprincipled substance (the lower subplanes of the cosmic physical plane), whilst the next two initiations make it possible for him to work with intelligence  and love on the two lower levels of the cosmic etheric plane—the buddhic and the atmic, the planes of spiritual love and intelligent will. The Way of the Higher Evolution leads through the monadic and logoic planes (the two highest levels of the cosmic physical plane); when the four planes of the cosmic etheric plane are completely mastered and under occult direction, the initiate is faced with the seven Paths and with the choice to tread one or other of them. His choice is naturally dependent upon ray determinations and past activity but is nevertheless a free choice, because all limitation has been removed, all wrong identification with physical forms is now impossible, and the initiate's only limitation is that imposed by entrance into cosmic levels of awareness with which he is still unfamiliar. Bear, therefore, continually in mind that the highest spiritual attainment upon and within the seven planes of our recognised planetary life is entirely conditioned by the fact that they are the seven subplanes of the cosmic physical plane and are composed of the three dense physical planes (our three worlds of human evolution) and the four cosmic etheric planes (the four levels of so-called spiritual development); these are conditioned by three forces and four energies. I have emphasised this by constant repetition on account of the great importance the recognition of these facts will play in any grasp you may achieve anent the Way of the Higher Evolution.
After the Master has taken the fifth initiation, He has—as you know—covered and mastered the ordinary field of evolution for humanity; that means the three worlds of ordinary human experience and the two worlds of superhuman effort, making the five fields of the spiritual activity of man. Love and intelligence are now perfectly developed in Him, though their expression and emphasis may vary according to His rays; He is aware of the fact of the Will or of the first divine aspect, with its two qualities (veiling a third) of destruction and of purpose; He is becoming active on the second plane of our planetary life, the monadic plane, and that great centre of life, Shamballa, is having a  definite vibratory effect upon Him; also (and this will be incomprehensible to you) He is becoming sensitive to a range of energies and influences which can now be registered by Him, owing to His increasing monadic polarisation and His contact with Shamballa.
The cosmic astral plane becomes, for the Master, a definite objective; He is beginning to develop a great sensitivity to that level of awareness, but consciousness of that within the planetary life—as He knows it—prevents Him from registering this energy of pure cosmic love as He later will. It is this sense of limitation which is the cause of His recognition of the Door on to the Way of the Higher Evolution, for the fifth and sixth initiations liberate Him into the atmic and monadic states of awareness; these initiations are to the initiate at this stage of development what the first and second initiations are to the disciple who is seeking to tread the earlier stages of the Path of Initiation. They might therefore be regarded as initiations of the threshold—one leading to the awareness of the higher levels of conscious unfoldment which the third initiation (the first major initiation) inaugurates, and the other to those levels of impression, of contact and of future ascension which are the sevenfold goal set before the Master when the sixth initiation (the true ascension) is consummated. It is for this reason that this particular initiation is called the Initiation of Decision. The Master then chooses which of the seven Ways or Paths He will follow, because His aeonial experience has enabled Him to choose any of them and know that He has chosen aright. Though these seven Paths, being one of the septenates, are necessarily related to the seven rays, they are not ray paths, nor are they governed by the seven rays. Any one of them is open to a Master of the Wisdom, and His choice will not be dependent upon His ray type, though He will take that factor into consideration. They are more definitely related to the seven cosmic planes than to the seven rays; this we will consider in greater detail when dealing with the factor of the seven Ashrams which are "proving" grounds for all the Masters confronted with the Initiation of Decision.
Disciples are more apt to be interested in the Ashrams from the angle of their own development; they are not prone to remember that the life progress and purpose of the Master not only determines the quality of the Ashram but that His own development and His eventual decisions are closely related to the Ashram which He controls. It is not easy for students to shift their attention away from the relation of the Ashram to humanity as a whole, or to realise that this relation is secondary to the Master Whose primary preoccupation is the unfoldment of the purposes of Sanat Kumara and the attainment of that state of Being which is significant of Shamballa. Students need to bear in mind that one phase of preparation for future work is that which will succeed the Initiation of Decision, and that this is dependent upon the type, quality and service rendered by the Master as He conditions and controls His Ashram. This I will attempt to enlarge upon under our next heading. It is useful however, for aspirants to discipleship, and above all for those preparing for initiation and consequently already working in an Ashram, to get this different point of view and begin to unfold within themselves a new sensitivity to impression coming from sources higher than the Hierarchy itself. This involves in them a new and higher type of orientation, and though it remains as yet impossible of attainment there is definite developing value in a grasp of the concept and the effort of the abstract mind and the intuitive perception to seize upon and reflect upon a new and entirely foreign concept. This higher reflective process is to the disciple who is working in an Ashram what aspiration is to the student upon the Probationary Path and the early stages of the Path of Discipleship.
In the latter case, the aspirant's emotional body becomes responsive to the principle of buddhi, reaching him via the love petals of the egoic lotus; in the more exalted situation, the disciple becomes aware (for that is all it is) of the possibility of an impression reaching him from the cosmic astral plane, via monadic levels of awareness. Note what I say—simply the possibility—for there is at this stage no assured  recognition of this goal; it is an impression which is to the disciple preparing for one of the higher initiations what an occult theory is to an aspirant on very much lower levels. The only way in which I can give any faintest idea of the higher reaches of the initiate consciousness will be through reference to lower grasped capacities and the presentation of undefinable truths in terms of that which has been defined and which (to these higher states of awareness) are in the nature of seed thoughts.
Some small grasp of the nature of the consciousness of Shamballa will emerge as we study this section of the Treatise, for the higher levels of the cosmic etheric plane are permeated with energies emanating from the cosmic astral plane and the cosmic mental plane; these energies, playing through and directed by the great Lives Who form a permanent nucleus of the Council Chamber at Shamballa, do condition and are the impelling, motivating and relating power behind all the evolutionary processes on lower levels.
Yet, the life and consciousness of the Hierarchy are very different to the life and consciousness of Those Who constitute the great centre called Shamballa; the developing sensitivity to increasingly high impression, which is the result of each stage of the final initiatory process, is the only way in which the distinction and the goal become apparent. Just as those who read and study these ideas are occupied with concepts and thoughts totally unrealised and wholly inexplicable and sometimes even senseless, to the ordinary everyday businessman in the street, so there are also ranges of thought and eternal extra-planetary concepts which are equally unknown and temporarily inexplicable to the initiate working in an Ashram under some Master. When the student realises that the great universal Oneness which he associates with monadic consciousness, is only the registration of impressions localised (and therefore limited) and defined within the etheric levels of the cosmic physical plane, he can perhaps grasp the implications of the wonder which will be revealed to the initiate who can transcend the entire cosmic physical plane (our seven planes of the  human, superhuman and the divine worlds) and function upon another cosmic level. This is what the treading of the Way of the Higher Evolution enables a Master eventually to do.
One interesting fact emerges out of all this comparative work and this mode of analogical teaching, and that is that the word "spiritual" refers neither to religious matters (so-called) nor to the Path of Discipleship or the Path of the major or higher initiations, but to the relationships on every level of the cosmic physical plane, to every level from the lowest to the highest. The word "spiritual" relates to attitudes, to relationships, to the moving forward from one level of consciousness (no matter how low or gross, from the point of view of a higher level of contact) to the next; it is related to the power to see the vision, even if that vision is materialistic as seen from the angle of a higher registration of possibility; the word "spiritual" refers to every effect of the evolutionary process as it drives man forward from one range of sensitivity and of responsiveness to impression to another; it relates to the expansion of consciousness, so that the unfoldment of the organs of sensory perception in primitive man or in the awakening infant are just as surely spiritual events as participation in an initiatory process; the development of the so-called irreligious man into a sound and effective businessman, with all the necessary perception and equipment for success, is as much a spiritual unfoldment—in that individual's experience—as the taking of an initiation by a disciple in an Ashram.
The assumption by orthodox church people that the word "spiritual" connotes profound and effective interest in orthodox religion is not borne out by the facts of the spiritual life. Some day, when the world is increasingly led by its initiates, this erroneous assumption will be discarded, and it will be realised that all activity which drives the human being forward towards some form of development (physical, emotional, intuitional, and so forth) is essentially spiritual in nature and is indicative of the livingness of the inner divine entity.
I have felt it necessary to point this out because it will become apparent as we read and study this section of the Treatise that the Master—moving forward into higher areas of impressionability—may not and frequently will not express this development in terms of what is now regarded as "spiritual" by the religious devotee and by the man used to the wording and the terminology of the churchmen of all faiths. The discoveries of science, my brother, or the production of some great work in literature or in the field of art, are just as much an evidence of "spiritual" unfoldment as the rhapsodies of the mystic or the registration by the so called occultist of a contact with the Hierarchy.
There will, however, come a point in the experience of all those thus making a spiritual approach along some specialised line, where a meeting place will become apparent, where a joint goal will be unitedly recognised, where essential unity under diversity of forms, of methods and of techniques will be acknowledged, and where pilgrims on all ways of approach will know themselves to be one band of demonstrators of the divine.
One such meeting place is upon the periphery of the Hierarchy during the stage immediately prior to acceptance into an Ashram. It is interesting to note that—on a world-wide scale—the world disciple, Humanity, is today on the verge of this major awakening and joint registration of a unity not hitherto reached; the growth of the spirit of internationalism, the inclusiveness of the scientific attitude, and the spread of a universal humanitarian welfare movement are all indicative of this meeting place.
Another such meeting place is recorded and entered (symbolically speaking) when the third initiation is taken, and still another is realised at the time of the seventh initiation. These all register development in group awareness, as well as in the recognition of the individual initiate, as to what is happening within the consciousness aspect of humanity.
The door into the Way of the Higher Evolution simply permits the entrance of the sensitive initiate into "spheres of intimacy" (as they are sometimes called) which are this time cosmic in their implications, planetary in their effects, and which give to the initiate what has been called the "key to the Sun"—as it conditions the solar system—just as the door to initiation gives to the aspirant the "key to the kingdom of God."
We have dealt in the foregoing pages with deep matters and have touched upon topics too high for the understanding of the average student or probationary disciple; dim recognitions, based on past acceptances are, however, possible to some of you. We have seen, among other things, that the so-called "door of initiation" presents obstacles whose purpose is to block entrance and to draw out the latent will of the applicant; an initiate is one who succeeds in penetrating to the further side of the door, where recognition awaits him. We will now concern ourselves with the basic theme of the Ashram itself.
THE ENTERING OF THE ASHRAM
This theme necessarily has great interest for all aspirants and would-be disciples, but I am not at first going to deal with the subject from the angle of humanity and its effort to establish contact with the Ashram. I desire first of all to speak of the Ashram as a whole, constituted of many Ashrams and creating an "invoking area" of relationship for the supreme Head of the Ashram, Sanat Kumara, the Lord of the World. I seek to enter into no discussion of this leading Life of our entire planet. HE is to a still greater Being, the One referred to elsewhere as "the One about Whom naught may be said," what the vehicle of a Master in physical incarnation is to Him, and on a less accurate basis, what your personality is to you; it is an expression of the soul or of the Monad when a disciple has attained initiate-consciousness.  All the qualities, the love and the purpose of a supreme Entity, referred to in The New Testament as the "Unknown God," are focussed in Sanat Kumara. Some gauge of the unfoldments which can lie ahead of humanity will enter the human consciousness when:
1. The fact of the Hierarchy,
2. The nature of its relationship to Shamballa,
3. The spiritual nature of Those Who respond in reverent obedience to the slightest wish of the Lord of the World,
are among the accepted truths whereby men live. This will happen after the externalisation of the Hierarchy.
This Lord of the World is the sole repository of the will and purpose of the One of Whom He is an expression; this again can be understood by you as evoking the same relation to the "unknown God" as your personality—when expressing adequately the soul and later the Monad—conditions your perception, knowledge, plans and purpose, and controls the quality of your life and directs the energy which you express.
His vehicle of manifestation is the planet with its seven centres, of which only three are yet recognised by the occult student: Shamballa, His head centre, the Hierarchy, His heart centre, and Humanity, His throat centre. The other four centres are concerned with evolutions which are reached, controlled and related from one or other of these three major centres. The solar plexus is dominated by the Hierarchy, the heart centre of Sanat Kumara, and has a close relation to the deva evolution, hinted at by me in A Treatise on Cosmic Fire. The vastness of this subject will be understood by my use of the word "hint" in reference to what I have earlier written on the subject.
The centre which we call Shamballa controls that mysterious centre which is the correspondence to that which we call "the centre at the base of the spine"; this is the inadequate name given to the reservoir of threefold fire, latent and quiescent, which is found at the base of the human spine; it is entirely inactive except in those people who have  taken the third initiation. The planetary centre is related to the three fires (electric fire, solar fire, and fire by friction) which are the source of the life, warmth, moisture and growth of all forms upon our planet. It may seem curious and inexplicable to you, but the centre of creativity is affected, and I had almost said guarded, by the "centre which we call the race of men"; the reference in the serious occult books to the future of humanity as the Saviour of all the subhuman kingdoms has relation to this fact.
The ajna centre of the Lord of the World is just beginning to express itself in a recognisable manner through the New Group of World Servers. This intermediate group—between the Hierarchy and Humanity—is a carrier of the energy which makes the Plan possible (the Plan of which the Hierarchy is the custodian). This Plan implements the Purpose, and later, when the New Group of World Servers is organised and is recognised as a living organism, it will definitely receive energy from Shamballa in a direct reception, via the Hierarchy. This information is, I realise, of little immediate importance to you, but—towards the end of the century—it will be found explanatory of much.
Though the Christ is the Head of the Hierarchy, it is Sanat Kumara, the Ancient of Days, Whose Ashram it truly is. The Christ (I am using one of His official names) is indeed the Master of all the Masters and the Coordinator of the entire life of the great Ashram, in conjunction with the two other hierarchical Officials, the Manu and the Mahachohan. The information I gave as to the constitution of the Hierarchy, in Initiation, Human and Solar, was along the same line. The Hierarchy is the Ashram of Sanat Kumara, but He has delegated His authority, right down the ages, to the so-called World Saviours successively; Their life expression embodied in every case the goal of the period during which They held office.
In the early days of the Hierarchy, millennia of years ago, neither the official Directors of the Hierarchy nor the Masters were of the calibre which They are today. Had They been so, They would have been too far removed from  the factual life of the cycle, and therefore useless for the cycle of divine life which existed. The growth of humanity and its evolutionary status (when compared with primordial and primitive man) can be seen in the quality of the Hierarchy today, which humanity produced and towards which it looks for guidance and teaching. This is an interesting point which I offer for your consideration. Never forget, my brothers, that as it is humanity which has furnished the personnel of the Hierarchy—including the Christ, the first of our humanity to achieve divinity—we have, therefore, the guarantee and the assurance of humanity's ultimate success.
The three major Executives of the Hierarchy:
1. The Christ, representing the second Ray of Love-Wisdom,
2. The Manu, representing the first Ray of Will or Power,
3. The Mahachohan, representing the third Ray of Active Intelligence,
are responsible to the Lord of the World for the processing of the life and impulse which condition the evolutionary process. This statement is made without any further definition by me because the whole subject is too abstruse and it would require another Treatise like that on Cosmic Fire to make it even a little clearer.
Humanity can only be the recipient of this type of information after the first Ray of Will or Power has become more active; this will take place when the work of the second Ray of Love-Wisdom has reached its next cyclic crisis point. The crisis points of a ray are ever indicative of success and have in them the quality of joy. Mankind will then be much freer from the spirit of separateness, and a measure of peace, unity and cooperation will be conditioning human relations. There is a constant shifting in the state of the planetary consciousness and this, though implemented from Shamballa, is produced by humanity itself; this unfolding human consciousness leads mankind eventually out of the fourth kingdom in nature into the fifth, the hierarchy of souls, and—at the same time—raises the level of consciousness  in all the three subhuman kingdoms. This series of happenings will remain for a long time inexplicable to man, though the results can be seen in the effect which humanity has had on the animal kingdom, through domestication; on the vegetable kingdom, through specialisation and science; and on the mineral kingdom, through the skilled utilisation of metals and the widespread use of the mineral products of the earth.
It must be borne in mind that the Council Chamber of the Lord at Shamballa is a unit, but that the Hierarchy is a differentiation of this basic unity into the seven major Ashrams and the forty-nine Ashrams which are gradually forming. The Hierarchy is, however, a unity within itself, for the entire ashramic life is guarded by a ring-pass-not, created by its radiation; the seven and the forty-nine Ashrams are held together by the magnetic interplay of the whole. It is this radiation which affects by its quality the senior aspirants in the world, and draws them gradually into relationship with itself and finally into its magnetic field. This is aided by the clarity of perception, the intensification of the livingness of the rightly oriented aspirant. I prefer the word "livingness" to that of "vibration," so widely used in modern occultism.
There is therefore a dual inflow into the Ashram of Sanat Kumara, controlled and directed by the three hierarchical Directors:
1. From Shamballa itself. This is a flow of energising life or of what we might call "unfettered enlightenment"; this impresses the purpose or the will of the Lord of the World upon the united Hierarchy in a manner incomprehensible to you; it also creates a dynamic magnetic impulse which enables the graded initiates, through the medium of the Ashrams, to organise the Plan and set it in motion, so that the Purpose gradually materialises on earth. Because the senior initiates, from the Christ down to initiates of the fourth degree, are conscious in varying ways (according to ray) of the Eternal Now, and can work free from the compulsion of time, They can see the impressed Purpose as a  more complete whole than can initiates of lesser degree and development. It is this capacity which makes Them responsive to Shamballa, where the living will of the "Unknown God" (for a period of a life cycle) is seen in completeness and is already existent. The Hierarchy is, however, handicapped in its activity by the time sense and the materialistic focus of the "centre which we call the race of men."
2. From Humanity. There is a constant (and increasing) flow of reoriented human energy penetrating into and beyond the radiatory periphery. This penetrating energy, implemented by the individual aspirant and disciple, is that of intelligent activity and—little as you may have realised it—it is this constant inflow which aids in the intelligent application of the Plan to human affairs. The Science of Impression, which governs the technique of Shamballa, functions through the three different centres in three different ways:
a. Shamballa...dynamic impression
b. The Hierarchy...magnetic telepathy
c. Humanity...radiatory sensitivity
yet these three are only manifestations of the will of God as it works out in the activities of His three major centres.