SECTION ONE - THE ASPIRANT AND THE MYSTERIES OF INITIATION - Part 2
One point should here be made: the entry of a member of the human family into the ranks of the initiates and his participation in the activity of some one or other of the Ashrams produces a movement out of the Hierarchy of some Master and into the highest centre of all; it has this effect only after the entering initiate has taken the third initiation, and can therefore take his part in the hierarchical life as a monadic expression susceptible to impression from Shamballa. When a Master thus emerges He is immediately confronted with the choice between the seven Paths. With this development and decision we shall later deal. The seven Paths are all concerned with purpose, just as the seven Ashrams are all concerned with the plan. There is, as you will later see, a direct relation between the seven Paths and the seven Ashrams. Though we shall not deal with the subject at all, there is likewise a correspondence in the third  major centre, Humanity. You have, therefore, curiously interrelated:
The seven Paths
The seven Rays
The seven Ashrams
The seven Races
Students would do well to bear in mind that these relationships are the result of the involutionary activity of the life expression of the Lord of the World. The key to the mystery of differentiation is found by the Master when He is faced by the choice of the seven Paths. At that high point of will expression, He discovers the secret of that evolutionary process which proceeds from unity to differentiation, and from differentiation to unity again. Individualisation, Initiation and Identification are the three main stages in the evolutionary activity of the life of God and condition the quality of each of the three divine centres. The four related septenates, enumerated above, eventually produce a synthesis which will consummate upon the cosmic mental plane. This is of course beyond my powers to teach or to explain, as I am not yet a liberated Master, though I am a liberated human being.
In the human centre, the man becomes identified with himself; in the Hierarchy, he becomes identified with the group; in Shamballa, He becomes identified with the planetary WHOLE. When that takes place, He is then aware for the first time that other identifications—lying beyond the planetary ring-pass-not—confront Him; His choice of one or other of the Paths is conditioned by the quality of His previous identifications, which are in their turn conditioned by His ray type.
Passing from these broad generalisations, which in reality lie far beyond our present grasp but which will have their future usefulness, let us now consider the Hierarchy as it exists (in the consciousness of Sanat Kumara, as His Ashram) and as it constitutes "the noble middle Path" to which the Buddha refers, and fills the intermediate and the  mediating place between Shamballa and Humanity. This position of the Hierarchy must never be forgotten.
The seven Groups of Ashrams within the Hierarchy
It is because the first Ray of Will or Power, through its Ashram, is related to Shamballa, that the Master Morya is the Head of all truly esoteric schools. In the esoteric enterprise and in the work done by disciples in the Ashrams, the Will is developed so that the Purpose may eventually be understood. He relates the three points of the triangle composed of the Hierarchy, the world of souls on the mental plane, and those human souls who (on all Rays) are ready for contact with the Hierarchy. They have made contact with their souls, and this is registered in the Hierarchy. The triangle is, therefore, as follows:
As the externalisation of the Ashram proceeds, those souls upon the physical plane who are ready for enlightenment will find their way into the New Group of World Servers; this group will increasingly assume potent relation between the units of life within its periphery, the Ashram, and humanity. From one point of view, the New Group of World Servers can be regarded not only as a relating group, but also as a great transforming station, dowered later (though not noticeably so at the present time) with two functions in relation to the Ashram:
1. One function is to enable "externalising units of perfection" (the higher initiates and the Masters) to step down Their individual potency to such a degree that They will be able to work in physical objectivity on the earth, with no undesirable effects upon humanity. I refer to average and undeveloped human beings. Students should bear in mind that contact with Those Who are initiates of high degree  and members of an Ashram has the following three effects upon humanity:
a. On evolved men, aspirants, probationers and disciples, the effect is stimulating and magnetic.
b. On average human beings, capable of little response yet susceptible to impact and sensitive to impression, the effect is not helpful and is often destructive, because their etheric bodies are not competent to entertain and employ such high vibrations.
c. On undeveloped humanity, the effect has been called "condensation or concretisation"; all their natural qualities (the qualified substance of their three bodies) are solidified; thus they create an automatic barrier to the entry of the too high impulses and vibrations.
2. The second function is to enable those who are making definite soul contact, reorienting themselves and nearing the periphery of the Ashram, to absorb with profit the radiation of the Hierarchy.
I would like at this point to refer back to the time sense in relation to the Hierarchy and its work, to which I referred a few pages back. It involves the inability of the average disciple to think in terms of the Ashram—the Ashram of the Christ, representing Sanat Kumara. When he turns his thoughts to the Master and the radiatory and magnetic group which He has attracted to Himself, the disciple almost inevitably thinks in terms of "my Master and His Ashram." Yet this is not in any sense a statement of truth. There is one great Ashram, the Hierarchy, radiating (after due absorption of light, understanding and power from Shamballa, and this inflow is adequate to hierarchical need) as it seeks to aid not only the human evolution but all the other evolutions, of which humanity, in several cases, knows nothing. The great Ashram is likewise magnetic in its effect, and through its magnetic potency (brought about by an inflow of first ray power) "units of life and devotion"—human beings—are brought into the Ashram as disciples in preparation for initiation. People are apt to regard magnetic  potency as evidence of love; it is, in reality, evidence of the radiation of love when enhanced and strengthened by first ray energy. It is the admixture (if I may use such a peculiar term) of love and will which produces radiation. It is the conscious use by the Hierarchy of the power coming from Shamballa which results in the magnetic impact and the spiritual "pull" which draws the soul, incarnated in the body, towards the Ashram. This pull is directed towards the world of souls which is, through its manifesting units, undergoing experience in the school of life, yet overshadowed by the soul on its own level. It is this overshadowing soul which absorbs and utilises the magnetic power and which, from soul levels, transfers it to the souls of men.
There is still another point upon which I would like to touch. Owing to the fact that the Law which governs the Hierarchy is the second systemic law, the Law of Attraction, students are apt to think that magnetism is a second ray quality. They are right in so far that all the systemic laws are expressions of the life of God through the medium, at this time, of the second ray, which makes our solar system a second ray system. All other laws and qualities (for a law from the divine angle is the motivating, qualified agent of the divine will, as understood in Shamballa) are related to the second ray as it manifests through our planetary Logos. Nevertheless, magnetic action is more closely allied to first ray functioning than it is to the second ray, and is an aspect or quality of the Law of Synthesis. It was this magnetic power of the first ray to which the Christ referred when He said "I, if I be lifted up (The Ascension Initiation. A.A.B.), will draw all men unto me." He faced then those initiations which would qualify Him to become what is esoterically called "a Shamballa recipient." There is, in magnetic action, more of the element of the will and of an expressing purpose. In explanation it might be said that the radiation of the Hierarchy, which is definitely second ray in nature, and which is projected as attractive radiation, is implemented by the magnetic aspect. This—as the Old Commentary puts it—is "a point of focussed fire, found in the centre of the jewel.  It stirs to life the quality of love which permeates the Ashram of the Lord. Radiation then can penetrate to other centres and to other lives, and thus the Lord is served." It is this point of focussed dynamic will at the very heart of the Hierarchy which in reality implements the Plan.
To put the matter as simply as possible—too simply to be entirely exact, yet near enough to the truth to be clarifying and helpful—it is this magnetic potency, this dynamic active and energising will, which enables the Hierarchy to move forward upon the eternal Path. Its functions might be listed as follows:
1. It is the connecting energy which comes from Shamballa and "enlivens" (literally and occultly understood) the Ashram of Sanat Kumara. It is, in one sense, the higher correspondence to the prana which "enlivens" the dense physical body of man.
2. It is the stimulating factor which produces cohesion among the various Ashrams, and is one of the sources of hierarchical unity. Putting it in other words, it is the service of the Plan which binds the seven Ashrams, with their subsidiary Ashrams, coherently into the one great Ashram. The Plan is the expression of the Purpose or the Will of God.
3. This Shamballic magnetism not only relates the Ashrams to each other, but it is also the potency which evokes the will or the first ray nature inherent in every man but which is only consciously and definitely unfolded within the periphery of the great Ashram.
4. In a mysterious sense, it is the life of that seed or germ which will come to fruition in the third solar system:
a. In the "centre which we call the race of men" the potency of intelligence (developed in a previous solar system) is brought to fruition and the stirrings of the potency of love are felt.
b. In the "centre which is nearest to the Lord" the potencies of intelligence and love are expressed, and at the third initiation the magnetic pull of the potency of will is felt.
c. In the "centre where the will of God is known" the intelligent loving Master, now responsive to the energy of the will, is faced with the seven Paths whereon that will can come to fruition and the "units of love can be transferred because they also will and know." They can then form part of the third solar system which will be definitely under the influences coming from the cosmic mental plane, just as, in this solar system, the energies coming from the cosmic astral plane have been the major influence.
All this is, of course, an inadequate expression of abstruse truth. The cosmic astral plane is not an illusion, as is the astral plane with which we are all so unhappily acquainted. The reason for this lies in the fact that all our planes constitute the cosmic physical plane and are therefore regarded—as far as three worlds of human evolution are concerned—as illusion, for the dense physical substance is not a principle. This you have oft been told. The cosmic astral plane is a reservoir of love energy, pouring into two of our planes which constitute part of the cosmic etheric body—the monadic plane and the buddhic plane.
5. It is that which permeates the radiation from the Hierarchy to which humanity is responsive. No disciple or aspirant can be drawn into the periphery of the Hierarchy, and from thence into an Ashram, without finding that his will nature is being affected. It will only show itself at this stage as persistence and determination. Persistence is a quality of life and related to immortality, whilst determination is the lowest aspect of the will. Their development produces a reorientation which becomes a permanent attitude, and the disciple then becomes responsive not only to the "vitalised radiation" coming from the periphery of the Hierarchy but also, in an increasing measure, to the "magnetic pull" which emanates from the Hierarchy itself, and in particular from the Ashram to which he must eventually find his way.
If you will make a close study of all the above information, you may find some measure of enlightenment. It is the great simplicities which must be ever kept in mind: the  three great divine aspects, the septenates of the evolutionary process, the divine qualities or principles, and the relation of energy to force. With these clearly held in mind, the detail is of small moment; the intuition rapidly assimilates and relates the detail, if there be need to do so, to the manifesting whole.
To return to our theme, which is the expression of the great Ashram through the medium of the seven Ashrams, it is this magnetic energy of the first aspect which is found at the heart of the seven Ashrams, energised and enlightened from the reservoir of will energy found at the heart of the great Ashram itself. This reservoir is fed from the "centre where the will of God is known," and the directing agent of this energy, within the Hierarchy itself, is the Christ and His two Associates, the Manu and the Mahachohan. The forty-nine subsidiary Ashrams (not all of which are yet functioning) are energised by the potency of will from the reservoir of energy at the heart of each major Ashram, these in their turn being fed from the central reservoir. The correspondence of this in the human centres is called the "jewel in the lotus."
Let us now study the formation of the great Ashram and then (this will have more meaning for you) the gradual formation of the seven Ashrams under direct ray activity. This process lies in the past history of humanity and I shall only briefly touch upon it. Once formed, it became the task of these seven Ashrams to produce the forty-two Ashrams. These seven Ashrams express ray qualities, and the whole forty-nine are expressive of the forty-nine fires, referred to in The Secret Doctrine; through these fires, the God of Fire seeks to make Himself known.
As we study some of the esoteric details connected with the life, the quality and, later, the appearance of the Ashrams of the Masters, I would remind you of certain points I have already made; your minds then will be predisposed to right thinking and interpretation. I am anxious for your approach to the subject to be correct. I have given you a number of definitions of an Ashram in the previous pages  and in my other books, and I would have you bear these in mind. The concept of a college group, of a band of workers or of a number of men and women working under the supervision of a Master is too apt to colour your thoughts. The complete freedom from all coercion or from any supervision of daily activity, the instinctive reaction of all within the Ashram to the ray influence and to the "breath of the prevailing Will" (as it is called) is something very different. I seek in what I intend to impart to you to give a very different impression. In our next section, on the dual life of the initiatory process, the newer concepts may emerge more clearly. The points I want you to bear in mind are as follows:
1. The great Ashram, the Hierarchy, is composed of many Ashrams, creating an "invoking area" of relationship for Sanat Kumara.
2. The Christ, aided by the Manu and the Mahachohan, is the Coordinator of the entire life of the great Ashram.
3. The personnel of the great Ashram is today entirely provided from the ranks of humanity. This was not so in the earlier cycles.
4. The great Ashram is formed of seven major Ashrams and forty-two secondary Ashrams which are gradually forming.
5. The entire Ashram is a unity, for the ashramic life in its differentiated groups is guarded by a ring-pass-not.
6. This ring-pass-not is provided by radiation.
7. The forty-two lesser Ashrams are held together by the magnetic interplay of the whole.
8. Aspirants are drawn into relation with the Ashram through its radiation and enter finally into its magnetic field.
9. There is a dual flow of energy or force into the great Ashram:
a. Energising life from Shamballa or what is called "unfettered enlightenment."
b. The energy of active intelligence from Humanity, thus enabling the Masters to formulate the Plan.
10. The seven Ashrams are all concerned with the Plan.
11. The Master Morya is the Head of all esoteric schools which truly prepare an aspirant for ashramic contact and work. The reason that a first ray Master is thus the Head is because it is the Will aspect which is developed within the Ashram.
12. It is the service of the Plan which binds the seven Ashrams, with their subsidiary Ashrams, into the one great Ashram.
13. It is only within his ray Ashram that the will of the disciple is developed.
14. The magnetic, dynamic energy of the first aspect of divinity is found at the heart of each of the seven Ashrams, fed from a reservoir of will energy which is found at the heart of the great Ashram itself.
15. The forty-two subsidiary Ashrams are energised by the reservoir of will energy found at the heart of each of the major Ashrams.
16. The seven Ashrams express each the quality of their ray, one of the seven ray types.
If you will have these points in mind, the whole hierarchical theme will be recognised and correctly interpreted by you.
There was a time when (in the early history of the planet) there was no Hierarchy; there were only two major centres in the expression of the life of the Lord of the World: Shamballa and His embryonic throat centre, Humanity. Shamballa was the head centre. There was no humanity, such as we now know it, but only something so primitive that it is well-nigh impossible for you to grasp its significance or factual expression. But the life of God was there, plus an inherent "urge" and a dynamic "pull." These two factors rendered the mass of men (if one may call them so) inchoately invocative, thus drawing from high spiritual centres certain developed and informed Lives Who—in increasing  numbers—"walked among men" and led them slowly, very slowly, forward into increasing light. The early history of the Hierarchy falls into two historical eras in the process of its becoming a "mediating Centre":
First: The time when the relating, mediating, enlightening correspondences to Those we now call the Masters trod the earth with men and were not withdrawn and apparently invisible, as is now the case. Their task was to bring the primitive intelligence of humanity to the point where there could be the presentation of the Plan, with eventual cooperation. In occult parlance, Their work was the establishing of a rapport between the unrevealed second aspect (to which They were responsive) and Humanity. In this They succeeded, but the matter aspect and quality—that of active intelligence—was so strong that the second historical phase became essential.
Second: The time when the Hierarchy was created as we know it today; the heart centre of Sanat Kumara came into its own life, formed its own magnetic field, possessed its own ring-pass-not, and became a dynamic mediating centre between Shamballa and Humanity.
It has oft been told in occult and theosophical literature that the Hierarchy withdrew as a penalising measure because of the wickedness of mankind. This is only superficially true and is an instance of a man-made interpretation; giving us the first example of the fear-and-punishment psychology which—from that time on—has conditioned all religious teaching. The withdrawing Masters had Their Paul to distort the truth, just as had the Christ, Their august Head today. The truth was far otherwise.
The time came in those distant aeons when a certain percentage of human beings reached, through their own efforts, the stage (at that time demanded) of preparedness for initiation. This attainment brought surprising results:
a. It became possible for certain of the Masters to "return from whence They came."
b. It became necessary to provide conditions where  these men "accepted for unfettered enlightenment" could receive the needed training.
c. The process of creation had reached the evolutionary stage where the centres of the Lord of the World were differentiated; function and radiatory activity were established, and this produced a stronger "pull" and placed the Hierarchy "at the midway point." A station of light and power was formed. All this was made possible because humanity could now produce its own "enlightened ones."
These two historical periods (not events, except in so far that all TIME is a sequence or pattern of events) covered vast cycles; aeon by aeon, the work went on until we have today the three major centres in the planet, demonstrating great activity, much more closely related than ever before, and ready now to enter into a third historical period. In this coming cycle we shall see the first stages of the great spiritual fusion towards which all evolution tends; it will take the form of the externalisation of the Ashram, so that the Hierarchy (or the centre where the love of God is known and the purpose of Sanat Kumara is formulated into the Plan) and Humanity will meet on the physical plane and occultly know each other. Two centres then will be "visible in the light"—the Hierarchy and Humanity. When these two centres can work in full cooperation, then Shamballa will take form and will no longer be found existing only in cosmic etheric substance, as is now the case.
What this means, how it will be accomplished, and what the implications are, will be revealed in such a distant future that we need waste no time considering it. We are working and living in the initial stages of the period wherein preparation is being made for the emergence of the Hierarchy into the world of men. This emergence is at present purely on to mental levels, but when the thoughtform of exoteric existence is created by Humanity itself and the invocative cry is intense enough, then the Great Ashram will slowly make its appearance upon the physical plane.
On that plane, the distinction between the two centres  will be preserved, but the inner relationship and the spiritual fusion will steadily proceed until:
Soul and personality are one,
Love and intelligence are coordinated,
Plan and fulfillment are achieved.
All this will be brought about through the invocative spirit in man, plus the initiatory process, carried on in the Ashrams of the great Ashram. What this coming process will entail of change in civilisation, in human nature and in the group expression of the human spirit—religions, society and politics—it is not possible here to say; so much lies hidden in the free will and right timing of mankind. But that future of spiritual cooperation and interplay within and without the great Ashram is assured, and for it all true disciples are working. The world situation today is therefore one of great interest. Humanity, the world disciple, is in process of recovering from a major test, prior to a great step forward towards a conscious approach to more spiritual living; this, factually, means a definite approach to the Hierarchy.
In the meantime the Hierarchy is orienting itself to a much closer rapport with humanity, and to an interior reorganisation which will make it possible to admit disciples in large numbers into the great Ashram. This will lead to the implementation of the lesser Ashrams and also to a preparation for the transmission of more of the Will energy, through the great Ashram, into the throat centre of Sanat Kumara, Humanity.
The seven major Ashrams are each responsive to one of seven types of ray energy and are focal points in the Hierarchy of the seven rays. The central, senior and major Ashram is (at this time) the repository of second ray energy, as this ray governs this second solar system. It is the Ashram of Love-Wisdom—the Ashram in which the Buddha and the Christ received Their initiations and through which each of Them works. It will be obvious that if the process of invocation and evocation governs the interplay of the planetary centres, you have in this fact another reason why the senior Ashram is second ray in quality. Invocation is related  to radiation. Evocation is related to magnetism. These are two points worthy of your consideration.
The other six major Ashrams came sequentially into being as the invocation of primitive man reached such a point of intensity of expression that a response was evoked from Shamballa, via its ray Representatives, working with directed energy in the three worlds. A "point of radiatory force" was established, at first in relation to the second ray Ashram, and later to the other Ashrams. One by one, as the rays cycled into activity in the three worlds and eventually on the physical plane, the seven Ashrams were founded, developed and expanded until the time arrived—several aeons ago—when all seven Ashrams were fully organised, and through them passed a steady flow of human beings liberating themselves from the three worlds.
In the earliest times this flow of disciples was exceedingly small. One by one, individual aspirants found their way out of the ranks of humanity and inside the ring-pass-not of the Hierarchy. In the beginning, only the first two initiations were given and only through the instrumentality of the second ray; and at these initiations the World Teacher of the period of officiated.
Then at a time when the seventh Ray of Ceremonial Order (the ray which plays so potent and mysterious a part in the phase of discipleship called initiation) was in cyclic activity, a much greater number of disciples appeared, prepared for initiation; the initiatory process was then administered in a seventh ray Ashram; this seventh ray Ashram was the second to be formed, owing to the fact that the seventh ray is the relating factor between life and matter upon the form side. Again, so the ancient Archives tell us, there came a great crisis in the evolution of humanity; this necessitated one of the rare cyclic changes which have distinguished the fluid policy of the Hierarchy. Men began to demonstrate responsiveness to the Law of Integration and personality appeared with all its potentiality for good and evil. Man became an integrated unit in the three worlds. A great possibility then emerged; man could, through training  and the use of the mind, make contact with the soul. This had not hitherto been done except to a slight degree. This crisis therefore led to the creation, or rather to the appearance, of the initiatory process to which we have given the name of the third initiation.
The Hierarchy for the first time realised the complete success of the vast work, carried on in the human centre for millions of years. Soul and personality could be and were intelligently fused. This is one of the reasons why the Hierarchy regards the third initiation as the first major initiation; it marked a point of complete soul-personality integration. In the earlier initiations, the soul was present but was still only occasionally in control; constant failure in the three worlds was still possible, and the relation between the man in the three worlds and his soul was nebulous and largely potential. You will realise what I mean when I point out that many thousands of people in the world today have taken the first initiation and are oriented towards the spiritual life and the service of their fellowmen; their lives, however, frequently leave much to be desired, and the soul is obviously not in constant control; a great struggle is still being waged to achieve purification on all three levels. The lives of these initiates are faulty and their inexperience great, and a major attempt is instituted in this particular cycle to achieve soul fusion. When that is attained, then the third initiation (the first, hierarchically speaking) is taken. Today this triple process of preparation, purification and fusion is the ordinary practice of the disciple and the process has prevailed for untold years; but when this fusion first occurred, it marked a great hierarchical event. It was a crisis of supreme spiritual import.
As you know, the first human being out of that "centre which we call the race of men" to achieve this point was the Christ; in that first great demonstration of His point of attainment (through the medium of what was then a new type of initiation) the Christ was joined by the Buddha. The Buddha had attained this same point prior to the creation of our planetary life, but conditions for taking the third initiation  were not then available, and He and the Christ took the initiation together. At this initiation, and since then for all initiates of that degree of attainment, They stood in the Presence of the One Initiator, the Lord of the World, and not in the Presence of the Initiate Who was then Head of the Hierarchy. This third initiation was taken in a fourth ray Ashram, the Ray of Harmony through Conflict. This Ashram had taken form and attained functioning activity some time earlier. You can see, under the Law of Correspondences, why this was so. The first human being in the fourth kingdom in nature to take this initiation did so in a fourth ray Ashram and then, esoterically speaking, "the Way lay open toward the Cross"; the initiate faced the process of extension on the Cross, and from that vantage point could view the three worlds. The fourth initiation then became a possibility; the crucifixion faced the disciple of the third degree with its promise of complete liberation and final resurrection.
You can see, therefore, what a tremendous crisis took place in the relation between Humanity and the Hierarchy—a crisis of such importance that Shamballa became involved and the Lord of the World Himself admitted the initiate to the higher contacts. Between that time and the crucifixion of the Master Jesus, the sixth ray Ashram, the fifth and the third, have all been formed around the nucleus of light, started by the ray Lords much earlier. The point of light and of will energy at the centre of each Ashram has existed for untold millennia of years, but the Ashrams themselves were only slowly formed around the nucleus as the various types of energy swept into manifestation and brought with them human types responsive to the ray energy.
When the Master Jesus took the Crucifixion Initiation, another crisis arose of equally great import, if not greater. The crisis was brought about because simultaneously with the crucifixion of the Master, the Head of the Hierarchy, the Christ, took two initiations in one: the Resurrection Initiation and that of the Ascension. These are the fifth and sixth initiations, according to the Christian terminology.  This was possible because the first ray Ashram was now active, making entry into the Council Chamber at Shamballa possible. When the Christ achieved this, He was deemed worthy of embodying in Himself a new principle in evolution and of revealing to the world the nature of the second ray aspect—the divine principle of love (as humanity calls it) or of pure reason (as the Hierarchy calls it).
Since that time, all the seven major Ashrams have been fully organised and are steadily increasing in radiatory activity. As you will have noted, the order of their appearance—under ray activity—was 2, 7, 4, 6, 5, 3, 1. In giving this item of ashramic information I am giving you more hints than you will immediately realise.
Each Ashram, as you know, expresses ray quality in its purest and most essential form. During the process of creating the seven Ashrams, they have shifted their focus (or location) from the lowest of the three levels of the abstract mental plane at each major crisis, until today the Ashrams are to be found on the buddhic plane and not on the mental plane at all. This marks the triumph of the hierarchical work, because pure reason—through the second ray—is now the dominant quality in all the Ashrams. Forget not in this connection that all the rays are subrays of the second Ray of Love-Wisdom, but that in the early days of hierarchical activity, it was the particular quality of the ray which dominated an Ashram that first demonstrated, and not the quality of the great major ray of which they were all a part.
Today this is all changing, though the process is not yet perfected, and pure reason or true love is beginning to manifest itself through the quality of all the rays, functioning through their respective Ashrams. The secondary ray quality will not die out or in any way be lessened, but each ray quality will serve to implement the expression of pure love, which is the essential and—at this time—the primary quality of the Lord of the World, Sanat Kumara.
As the centuries have slipped away and the potency of the rays has increased on Earth, humanity has become more and more invocative; this has necessitated the expansion of  the Hierarchy itself, and each Ashram has become the creator of six other Ashrams (few of them as yet complete, and some entirely embryonic), so that, in fact, all the forty-nine Ashrams are in the making. The second ray, for instance, has five affiliated Ashrams and one of which only the nucleus exists, and all these are working under its inspiration and through the effect of the second ray central fire. All have at their centre a second ray disciple. The third ray has already two subsidiary Ashrams; the sixth has four, and so on. The first ray is the only one at this time with no subsidiary fully functioning Ashram, and this because the will aspect is as yet very little understood and few initiates can meet the requirements of the first ray initiation. This is no reflection upon humanity. It is a question of divine timing and expediency, and Shamballa is not yet prepared for an influx of first ray initiates. Ages must pass before this Will aspect will have reached the stage of unfoldment and expression on the physical plane and through the medium of mankind which will warrant the fusing of six first ray fires—the purest fires there are.
If you will add all the above information as a background to what you know about ashramic work today, you will have a more complete picture of evocative and spiritual reality. You know much (for I have told you much) anent the Ashrams open today and the requirements for acceptance. It is essential that the uniqueness of the initiatory process be discounted. Down the ages men have achieved, are achieving and will achieve. The only difference is that—as the intellect of man develops—the requirements for initiation become more drastic and exacting, and the initiate therefore becomes of a distinctly higher order. The Master today is infinitely wiser and more full of love and more "occultly reasonable" than was the Master in Atlantean times. This in itself constitutes a reasonable fact, does it not, my brothers?
In considering the work carried forward in the Ashram as it affects the Masters Themselves, two ideas automatically emerge:
1. The Masters are also subject to limitation. The general idea of all aspirants is that They represent Those Who leave achieved freedom, have been liberated, and are therefore held by no limiting circumstances whatsoever. This is not true, though—speaking relatively, or so far as humanity is concerned—it is a fact that the limitations by which They were held as human beings are no longer present. But one achieved freedom only opens the door to another and wider freedom on ahead, and the ring-pass-not of our planetary Life in itself constitutes a powerful limitation. Speaking symbolically, somewhere in that great dividing wall of our planetary circumference, the Master must find an exit and discover a door which will permit Him to enter the Way of the Higher Evolution in its more cosmic stages. This Way leads Them in awareness and consciousness and experience into that "life more abundantly" of which Christ spoke; the origin and source of this more abundant life is to be found on cosmic levels, and not on the levels of the cosmic physical plane to which humanity and the Masters have hitherto been confined.
2. I am dealing with states of awareness and with experiences and spiritual undertakings which lie outside my own personal realisation. But in spite of this truth, just as you in the position of aspirants and disciples know much about the Hierarchy, its life, aims and conditioning rules, so do I, a Master of the fifth degree, know much concerning what lies ahead of me; I can therefore endeavour to make some small part of these essential truths clearer to those who can profit by them. Such people will necessarily be initiated disciples.
Years ago (in 1922) when I gave the names of the seven Paths along one of which a Master must go (Initiation, Human and Solar), it was felt by Those for Whom I was working that humanity was not ready for the information which I now propose to give. I would here remind you that I have ever stated that even the Hierarchy does not know exactly how humanity will react or what progress they will make within a given time. Since I gave the earlier exoteric information, the world war took place, the forces of hidden evil  emerged for a short period and were then routed, and humanity has awakened to truer values and spiritual perception to a totally unexpected extent. Men have been so aroused by the past agony that never again will they fall asleep; they may move slowly but they are, for the first time on a large scale, really thinking and visioning. For this reason, it is now possible to give out teaching hitherto regarded as too advanced. There are those alive today who will understand; there are those coming into incarnation during the next fifty years whose feet are already set upon this Higher Way, and it is for them I write.
There are certain preliminary statements which would be useful here, if there is to be any real and true measure of clear thinking and understanding. Their significance will emerge as we study the Seven Paths and the Nine Initiations. I shall do no more than state them, but you must regard them as basic:
1. Our seven planes—the mastery of which is our idealised spiritual goal—are after all only the lowest cosmic plane, the cosmic physical plane. From the cosmic angle, the Masters are only beginners, and even our deeply desired initiations (from the first to the sixth) are simply preparatory initiations for those to be taken later on upon the Way of the Higher Evolution.
2. This Higher Way is a sevenfold Way. The seven Paths form its seven modes of approach to the One Way and together create it. These seven Paths are not ray-conditioned. By that I mean that entering one or another of them is not in any way dependent upon the ray which conditioned the Master earlier. The Masters and the still higher initiates, such as the Christ, can choose any Path which makes its appeal in such a manner that complete rightness is registered in the initiate's consciousness and He knows that He can go no other way.
3. At the sixth initiation, called the Initiation of Decision, the Initiate makes His final choice as to the Way that He will go, and from that decision there is no turning back.
4. Three things will necessarily colour any decision the Initiate may make; His ray, which still determines Him, His past activities as they may fit Him for specialised work, plus a sense of freedom hitherto unrealised. The decision might be regarded as the first gesture of the advancing Master toward liberation from all ray limitations. As He moves forward on the Higher Way, He will find Himself, as a result of the new training and field of experience, able to work on any ray.
5. The fifth initiation is usually called that of the Resurrection by the orthodox Christian, but this is not its real name; it is in reality the Initiation of Revelation, because the Initiate gains His first vision of the Door through which He must pass on to the seven Paths. He glimpses it and that is all, but between that initiation and the next in which He must perforce make His decision, He comes to understand the nature of the energy which each Path expresses and which will eventually evoke from Him a decisive activity.
6. By passing through the second great Door of Initiation, the Initiate begins to learn the significance and the attractive potency of the Central Spiritual Sun, to which all the Paths eventually lead.
7. The fifth and sixth initiations are to the Master what the first and second are to the disciple—simply initiations of the threshold and not true initiations from the cosmic angle. The first true initiation upon the Higher Way is called the Initiation of Resurrection; this has no reference to the fifth initiation.
8. The decision made by the Master enables Him to take the required training to enter His chosen Path, and this training is taken entirely upon cosmic etheric levels—the four highest subplanes of the cosmic physical plane—the buddhic, atmic, monadic and logoic planes.
9. On these planes the spiritual and the divine will is developed and brought into use; these are aspects of that undefinable purpose to which we give the simple name: the Will of God. Intelligence and love have been fully unfolded in the Master, but the will is embryonic still, from the  standpoint of Those responsible for training the Master and the higher Initiate. It is only by means of the divine will that the Master begins to free Himself from ray limitations.
10. I would remind you of an earlier statement that the Hierarchy reacts or responds to the energies and influences coming from the cosmic astral plane; from that level of spiritual life true divine love pours into it. Shamballa reacts to the cosmic mental plane, and therefore to the nature and purposes of the Mind of God; the expression of THAT which overshadows Sanat Kumara is similar to the soul overshadowing the incarnated spiritual man.
If you will bear these facts in mind, some light may break through and, in any case, when the student or disciple returns to incarnation, this imparted knowledge (stored in the soul's content) will then be usefully available.
I would like to enlarge somewhat upon an earlier remark. I stated that the "seven Ashrams are 'proving grounds' for all the Masters confronted with the sixth Initiation of Decision."
This constitutes part of the problem facing the Masters Who are thus to move forward; it is particularly crucial for Those Who have chosen the first Path, the Path of Earth Service, and for all in preparation for the sixth initiation. This process of changing for a final, conditioning decision—in line, consciously realised, with divine Purpose and entailing responsiveness to Shamballa—is a major undertaking; it is related to the development of understanding the Will, and concerns the spirit or life aspect; it involves an increasing revelation of the purpose and the "fixed intention" of the planetary Logos but (even more than that) it has relation to extra-planetary sources and energies and to those cosmic conditions which are responsible for the Presence of Sanat Kumara upon the Earth. It is will which has brought Him here, and the unfoldment of the will nature of the Masters and still higher Initiates admits Them into His inner deliberations by means of the highest form of telepathic rapport or impression to be found upon our planet.  This impression is, however, made possible by the development of the intuition, and has no relation to the mind nature.
This training in decision is given by forcing the Master to make basic decisions within His Ashram affecting world work and involving all within the Ashram. It is given by His admission to the conclave of the Masters, meeting every seven years. At that conclave They make decisions which concern all forms of life in all the kingdoms in the three worlds and their evolutionary progress; it is put to the test in group form when the entire Hierarchy meets at Its centennial conference and—at that time—decides what form of crisis, on what level of consciousness, and involving what group of lives, must be implemented and presented to humanity, though the other kingdoms of nature will be necessarily implicated. The reason for this is that the meeting of such a planned crisis will hasten certain realisations. Forget not that humanity grows through the presentation of moments of crisis. These moments of crisis, based on past karma, conditioned by the point in evolution already achieved, and on the presence in the three worlds of certain appropriate ray forces, are brought to the point of precipitation by united decision in the conclave of the Masters.
These decisions do not affect man's free will, for the Hierarchy does nothing to condition man's approach to the crisis and, occultly speaking, Their "attitude is deliberately turned to other things" during the period of man's decision; thus the potency of Their thinking does not affect the human mind. Once the precipitation of the crisis is complete, and humanity has begun to take action of some kind, then the full attention of the Masters, working through Their Ashrams, is committed to the giving of full assistance to all those who are seeking to guide humanity along correct lines—a relative few among the countless millions of the ignorant.
While these centennial conclaves are being held at the close of the first twenty-five years of every century, the Lord of the World with the Members of His Council watch the process of decision in order to see how far the will of the  Hierarchy conforms to that aspect of the divine will which should be expressed in the three worlds as the result of Their decision. They watch also Those particular Masters Who should in a short time be ready for the sixth initiation, in order to see how much of that divine will They register and what is the nature and quality of Their use of it. By recording that quality, the Council at Shamballa is able to determine with great accuracy which of the seven Paths a certain Initiate will choose. In this manner They become aware of how many senior disciples will be needed to take over the headship of an Ashram, with a consequent admittance of many disciples to the initiation next in order for them. At the same time, aspirants on the periphery of an Ashram are enabled to move forward into full ashramic participation.
All this should give you some idea of the synthesis which expresses itself through the three planetary centres: Shamballa, the Hierarchy and Humanity. These are responsible for the conditioning of the other planetary centres and the consequent demonstration of divine intention. The basic purpose of Sanat Kumara is to bring about right relations in every field of His manifested life. The encouraging factor is today that the activity of humanity itself is, for the first time, concerned with the entire subject of right human relations and how to bring it about. I would have you reflect on this, for it means that, again for the first time, humanity is consciously responding to the will and intention of Shamballa, even though without realising the esoteric implications. This is of far greater importance than you can imagine, for it signifies a new relationship of a spiritual nature and deeply spiritual results.
The preparation of the Masters for this sixth initiation is exceedingly strenuous. They find it as difficult to achieve Their goal as does the average disciple as he looks ahead at the initiation which immediately confronts him. They have to master the technique of handling the most potent energy and influence in the world, that of the intelligence. They have to penetrate into the mystery of electricity and implement  its expression in the creative process under the directive of Shamballa; They have to learn to work with electric fire in the same way as—much earlier—They worked with fire by friction as personalities, and with solar fire as disciples and lesser initiates. In this way, They become familiarised with what is meant by the words the "Central Spiritual Sun," just as They were familiar with the appearance of the physical Sun when members of the human family, and with the "Heart of the Sun" as Members of the Hierarchy. Again you can see the same unfolding synthesis—a synthesis which originates in that focal point of attractive dynamic energy, known to us as the Sun and its planets.