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I. The Growth of Soul Influence - Part 3

1. Appropriation of the physical sheath.  This takes place between the fourth and seventh year, when the soul, hitherto overshadowing, takes possession of the physical vehicle.

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2. A crisis during adolescence, wherein the soul appropriates the astral vehicle.  This crisis is not recognised by the general public and is only dimly sensed, from its evidenced temporary abnormalities, by the average psychologist.  They do not recognise the cause but only the effects.

3. A similar crisis between the twenty-first and twenty-fifth years, wherein the mind vehicle is appropriated.  The man should then begin to respond to egoic influences, and in the case of the advanced man, he frequently does.

4. A crisis between the thirty-fifth and forty-second years, wherein conscious contact with the soul is established; the threefold personality then begins to respond, as a unit, to soul impulse.

5. For the remaining years of life, there should be an increasingly strong relationship between the soul and its vehicles, leading to another crisis between the fifty-sixth or the sixty-third years.  According to that crisis will depend the future usefulness of the person and whether the ego continues to use the vehicles on into old age, or whether there is a gradual withdrawal of the indwelling entity.

There are many corresponding cycles of crisis in the life history of any soul down through the ages, but these major five crises can be traced with clarity from the standpoint of the higher vision.

One of the ways in which the life story of a soul is charted in the archives of the Masters (under the present planetary experiment) is by means of graphs, which give these crises—racial and individual.  Sometimes, with the more advanced aspirants, even the physiological crises of importance are charted.  The entire story of the relationship of a soul with [54] its several vehicles of expression in the three worlds, is the story of the various types of energy which are being magnetically related to each other and which are temporarily subordinated to varying aspects of force, in order to produce those fields of magnetic activity wherein certain needed rates of vibration may be established.  From the angle of the initiates of the Ageless Wisdom, the story of man, the aspirant, is the story of his response to, or repulse of, applied energies.  The fact that the interplay between different types of energy results in the formation of those aggregations or condensations of force which we call bodies, sheaths or vehicles (material or immaterial) is incidental to the main issue, which is the development of a conscious response to the life of God.

Small units of energy, relatively speaking, are swept into contact with great fields of force, which we call planes. According to the extent of the impact (and this is determined,—symbolically speaking,—by the power of the originating will, the so-called age of the soul, the potency of group activity, and planetary or group karma), so will be the response between the unit of energy and the field contacted, and so will be the quality and vibratory activity of the atoms of matter which are attracted and held together.  They will thus constitute a temporary form from which can be seen as externalised and as relatively tangible, and which can function as a mode or medium whereby the soul can contact larger forms of divine life and expression.  The more intricate the organisation of the form and the more complex and perfect the response apparatus, the more clearly will be indicated the age of the soul and the perfected intent or potency of its will, the freer it will be from the limiting karma of an unevolved conditioning vehicle.

A close study of this subject is not possible here.  The appropriation by a soul of those energy units which will constitute [55] its body or sheath, as it passes from one plane to another and from one state of consciousness to another, is a study so abstruse and complicated that only those initiates whose development equips them and whose interest impels them to work with the application of the law of karma (which is identified in time and space with substance and force), can readily comprehend the complexities of the subject.

Two words are emerging today in connection with modern psychology which have a close relation to this difficult law;  they indicate two basic ideas with which these trained initiates work.  The idea of patterns and the idea of conditioning hold definite occult implications.  The workers in this department of esoteric work deal primarily with the world of patterns which underlie all the activities of the Oversoul and the individual souls.  Forget not that this term "individual souls" is but a limiting phrase, used by the separative mind to indicate the aspects of one reality.

Patterns are, in the last analysis, only those types of energy which are struggling to emerge into material expression and which eventually subordinate the more superficial and obvious energies (which have worked their way through to the surface in the process of manifesting) to their newer imposed rhythm.  Thus they produce the changed types, new forms and different notes, tones and appearances.  These patterns are literally the divine ideas, as they emerge from the subjective group consciousness and take those mental forms that can be appreciated and appropriated by the mind and brain of man during any particular epoch.  It might, therefore, be thought that these patterns or fundamental ideas which take shape and appear to control the "way of a man on earth", as it is esoterically called, produce the conditioning here discussed.  Literally and curiously, this is not so.  From the angle of esoteric thought, [56] conditioning (if rightly understood) concerns the response, innate and inherent, of matter or substance, to the pattern.  It might be said that the pattern evokes and awakens response, but that the conditioning of the resultant activity is determined by the quality of the response apparatus.  This quality is inherent in the substance itself, and the interplay between the pattern and the conditioned material produces the type of sheath which the soul appropriates in time and space, in order to experiment and gain experience.  It will appear more clearly, therefore, as one studies this subject and ponders deeply upon its implications, that as a man advances on the path of evolution and nears the status of an initiate, the conditioning of the form, innate and inherent, will continuously approach nearer and nearer to the requirements of the pattern.  It might also be stated that the pattern is relatively immutable and unchangeable in its own inherent nature, as it comes forth from the mind of either the macrocosmic Deity or the microcosmic thinker, but that the process of the inner conditioning of matter is mutable and in a state of continual flux.  When, at the third initiation, union of the pattern and the conditioned form is achieved, the Transfiguration of the initiate takes place, leading to that final crisis wherein the two are known as one, and the form nature (including in this phase the causal body as well as the lower vehicles) then is dispersed and disappears.

The early stages of human development are—as in all else in nature,—apparently inchoate and formless, from the angle of the true pattern, existing eternal in the Heavens.  There is a physical form, but the inner, fluid, subjective nature, emotional and mental, in no way conforms to the pattern, and, therefore, the outer form is also inadequate.  But crisis after crisis occurs, and the inner form nature responds more definitely and precisely to the outer impact of the soul impetus [57] (note this paradoxical phrase), until the astral vehicle and the mental body are consciously appropriated, and as consciously used.  It must never be forgotten that evolution (as we understand it and as it must be studied by the human intellect) is the story of the evolution of consciousness and not the story of the evolution of form.  This latter evolution is implicit in the other and of secondary importance from the occult angle.  Consciousness is literally the reaction of active intelligence to the pattern.  Today, it is as if we were responding consciously and with an increasingly intelligent purpose to the design as laid down by the Master Builder upon the tracing board.  As yet we do not and cannot enter into that Cosmic Mind and vibrate in conscious unison with the divine Idea nor grasp the Plan as it is sensed and seen by the cosmic Thinker.  We have to work with the design, with the pattern, and with the Plan, for we are only as yet in process of being initiated into that Plan and we are not aware of the true significance of those great Identifications which enabled the Carpenter of Nazareth to say:  "I and my Father are one."

But it must also be remembered (and herein lies the clue to world unfoldment and to the mystery of past, present and future) that we are dealing with matter-substance and with forms which are already conditioned, and which were conditioned when the creative process began.  The material to be found in the quarries of manifested purpose is, symbolically speaking, Marble, and is thus conditioned.  It is not clay or slate.  It is from this marble, with all the inherent attributes of marble, that the Temple of the Lord must be built, in conformity to the design or pattern.  This conditioned substance must be accepted as existing and must be dealt with as it is.  Such is the parable of the ages.  The design, the material, and the future temple are all subjectively related, and it is this [58] that the soul knows.  For the soul is the One who appropriates the material (already conditioned and qualified), and for ages the soul wrestles with that material, building it into tentative forms, discarding it at will, gathering together again the material needed, and steadily making more adequate models as the pattern is visioned.  Some day, the model will be discarded, the pattern will be seen as it really is, and the worker, the soul, will then begin to build consciously the Temple of the Lord, out of the conditioned and prepared material which, for long ages, it has been preparing in the quarry of the form life, the personal life.

Here, therefore, are indicated two crises in the subjective life of the soul:—

1. The crisis wherein the soul, blinded, limited and handicapped by form, begins to work in the quarry of experience, far from its own country, with inadequate tools, and in complete temporary self-imposed ignorance of the design, or pattern.

2. The crisis which comes very much later in the soul's experience, wherein the soul knows more clearly the design, and in which much material has been prepared.  The soul is no longer blind, and can now work in collaboration with other souls in the preparation of the material for the final Temple of the Lord.  The soul, incarnate in human form, places in that Temple his particular contribution to the whole, which might be stated symbolically to be

a. A stone placed in the foundations, typical of the consecrated physical life.

b. A column in the Temple itself, typical of the desire or aspirational life.

c. A design upon the tracing board, which coincides with [59] the Great Pattern or Design, and which is that fragment of that design which the individual had to supply and in search of which he went forth.

d. A radiance or light, which will augment the Shekinah, the light which "ever shineth in the East".

Three things emerge in connection with the task of the soul as it appropriates sheath after sheath for expression:—

1. The condition of the substance of the sheaths which determines the equipment.

2. Responsiveness to the pattern, which is dependent upon the stage of conscious development.

3. Ability to work in connection with the Plan, which is dependent upon the number and quality of the crises undergone.

All this takes place as the soul passes, time after time, through the experience of physical incarnation;  later, progress is made consciously from plane to plane and this is undertaken with clear intent.  The work is facilitated and progresses with increased rapidity as the soul, actively, intelligently and intuitively, begins to work with the pattern, transmitting from crisis to crisis (each marking an expansion of consciousness) a newer reach of development and a fresh grasp of the great Design, coupled with a better and more adequate equipment through which to carry on the work.

In our consideration of the second part of the statement in this treatise, which deals with the relationship of the soul to its instrument,—the mechanism whereby or wherewith it expresses quality, activity and eventually divinity (whatever that vague word may mean)—we have to approach the subject in two ways:

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First, we must consider the utilisation of the mechanism on the Path of Outgoing.

Second, the utilisation of the mechanism upon the Path of Return.

In the first case, we are dealing with what might be regarded as the physiological aspect, for it is in the physical nature that the consciousness is primarily focussed; in the second case, we are concerned with the purely mental apparatus, though the word "apparatus" is basically unsuitable.

It might be well to interrupt here for a moment and deal with the idea of mechanism and divinity, for these are apt to be a materialising of the idea of divinity, particularly in the West.  The divinity of Christ, for instance, is frequently illustrated by reference to His miracles, and to those supernormal powers which He so often evidenced.  Supernormal powers are, of themselves, no evidence of divinity at all.  Great exponents of evil can perform the same miracles and demonstrate the same capacity to create and to transcend the normal faculties of man.  These powers are inherent in the creative aspect of Divinity, the third or matter aspect, and are linked to an intelligent understanding of matter and to the power of the mind to dominate substance.  This power is, therefore, neither divine nor non-divine.  It is a demonstration of the capacity of the mind, and can be used with equal facility by an incarnated Son of God, functioning as a World Saviour or Christ, and by those Beings who are on the path of destruction, and who are called (by those who know no better) Black Magicians, Evil Forces and Devils.

Divinity (using the word in its separative sense) connotes the expression of the qualities of the second or building aspect of God,—magnetism, love, inclusiveness, non-separativeness, sacrifice for the good of the world, unselfishness, intuitive understanding, cooperation with the Plan of God, and many [61] other such qualitative phrases.  Mechanism, after all, implies the creation of a form out of matter and the infusing of that form with a life principle which will show itself in the power to grow, to reproduce, to preserve identity of some kind, to flower forth into certain instinctual reactions, and to preserve its own specific qualitative nature.  Life resembles the fuel which, in conjunction with the mechanism, provides the motivating principle and makes activity and the needed movement possible.  But there is more to manifestation than forms which possess a life principle.  There is a diversity running through nature and a qualifying principle which differentiates the mechanisms; there is a general synthesis and purpose, which defies the powers of man to emulate it creatively, and which is outstandingly the major characteristic of divinity.  It expresses itself through colour and beauty, through reason and love, through idealism and wisdom, and through those many qualities and that purpose which, for instance, animate the aspirant.  This is—briefly and inadequately expressed—Divinity.  It is, however, a relative expression of Divinity.  When each of us stands where stand the Masters and the Christ, we will regard this whole question from another point of view.  The developing of virtues, the cultivation of understanding, the demonstration of good character and high aims, and the expression of an ethical and moral point of view are all necessary fundamentals, preceding certain definite experiences which usher the soul into worlds of realisation which are so far removed from our present point of view that any definition of them would be meaningless.  What we are engaged in is the development of those qualities and virtues which will "clear our vision", because they produce the purification of the vehicles so that the real significance of divinity can begin to emerge in our consciousness.

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b. CERTAIN BASIC PREMISES

With this preamble, we will pass on to the consideration of the mechanism and of that which infuses it and motivates it with life and intelligence.

Certain basic premises are recognised and can, therefore, be very briefly mentioned:—

1. The soul informs the mechanism in two ways and through two points of contact in the body:—

a. The "thread of life" is anchored in the heart.  The life principle is there to be found, and from that station it pervades the entire physical body through the medium of the blood stream, for "the blood is the life".

b. The "thread of consciousness" or of intelligence is anchored in the head, in the region of the pineal gland, and from that station of perception it orders or directs the physical plane activities, through the medium of the brain and the nervous system.

2. The directive activity of the soul, or its authoritative grasp upon the mechanism of the body, is dependent for its extent upon the point of development, or upon the so-called "age of the soul".  The soul is ageless from the human angle, and what is really meant is the length of time that a soul has employed the method of physical incarnation.

3. The result of this twofold hold upon the mechanism during the past ages has been the conditioning of the material, in conjunction with its own inherent conditioned nature.  A form is produced which is adequate to the temporary need of the soul and which is a reflection, in time and space, of its "relative age" or point of development. [63] This, therefore, produces the type of brain, the conformation of the body, the condition of the endocrine system, and consequently the set of qualities, the type of mental reaction, and the character with which any given subject enters into life upon the physical plane.  From that point, the work proceeds.  This work might be regarded as an effort to intensify the hold which the divine Thinker has upon the mechanism.  This will lead to a wiser, fuller direction, a deeper realisation of the purpose, and an effort to clear the way for the soul by the institution of those practices which tend towards right conduct, right speech, and good character.  The thought underlying this paragraph links the conclusions of the materialistic school of psychologists with the introspectionist school and those schools which posit a self, a soul or a spiritual entity, and shows that both groups are dealing with facts, and that both must play their united parts in training the aspirant in the New Age.

4. As the introspective method is pursued, and as we study the human subject, we discover that underlying the human body in all its parts, and constituting a definite part of the human apparatus, there is a vehicle which has been called the "etheric body", composed entirely of threads of force which, in their turn, form the channels along which still more subtle and varying types of energy flow.  These are, in their turn, "conditioned" during manifestations by the status of the soul.  These threads underlie and interpenetrate the entire body and the nervous system and are in reality the actuating power of the nervous system.  Their responsiveness to impacts, outer and inner, is unbelievably great.  The nervous reactions of the disciple and highly developed person, [64] whose etheric body is in close rapport with his nervous system, is beyond the average comprehension.

5. The sum-total of the nerves, with the millions of nadis or "thread counterparts" in the etheric body, form a unit, and this unit, according to the teaching of the Ageless Wisdom, has in it points of focus for different types of energy.  These are called "force centres", and upon these depend the life experience of the soul and its expression, and not upon the body.  They are the factors which condition the glandular system of the body.

6. This subjective and objective system governs the manifestation of the soul on the physical plane.  It indicates to those who can see in truth, the grasp or hold that the soul has upon its instrument; it can be seen whether that grasp is occasional and partial or whether it is entire and whole.  This is most wonderfully indicated in a certain Masonic grip, which marks a climax in the experience of the candidate to the mysteries.

I previously referred to the main channel of communication between the soul and its mechanism as being:—

a. The centre at the base of the spine.

b. The centre at the top of the head, where the most important centre in the body is situated, from the standpoint of the soul.  There is its point of entry and exit; there is the great radio station of reception, and the distributing centre for direction.

c. The spleen.  This is a subsidiary centre and organ in connection with the heart centre.

It is through the spleen that a linking up takes place between the life principle (seated in the heart) and the consciousness system, interlinking all the material organs and the atomic [65] substance of the physical body.  This statement indicates that, in the location in the human body where the spleen is found, along with its corresponding subjective force centre, two great currents of energy cross:  these are the current of physical vitality or life and the current of the consciousness of the atoms which construct the form.  It will be observed that we are here discussing the group subconscious life and not the conscious life and the self-consciousness.  The spleen is the organ in which planetary prana or vitality is received and passed.  This enters in through "the open gateway" of the splenic force centre, and passes to the heart.  There it merges with the individual life principle.  Through the splenic centre also passes the conscious life of the sum-total of the bodily cells, which are, in their turn, the recipients of the energy of the consciousness aspect or principles of all atoms and forms within the fourth kingdom of nature.  This we cannot be expected to comprehend as yet, but the truth will be appreciated later on in the racial development.  A hint can here be found as to the excessive sensitivity of the solar plexus centre to surrounding group impacts and impressions of an astral kind.  There is a close rapport between the splenic centre and the solar plexus, as well as with the heart.

7. These two subjective and subconscious streams of energy cross each other in the region of the spleen and there form a cross in the human body, as they traverse each others lines of force.  This is the correspondence in the human body to the cross of matter, spoken of in connection with Deity.  Consciousness and life form a cross. The downpouring stream of life from the heart and the stream of life-giving energy from the spleen pass on (after crossing each other and producing a whirlpool of force) into the solar plexus region; from thence [66] they are very definitely drawn together as one stream at a certain stage in the life of the advanced aspirant.  There they merge with the sum-total of energies, using the three points referred to—the head, the base of the spine and the spleen—as a definite mode of communication, of distribution and of control, and finally of ultimate withdrawal, consciously or unconsciously, at the moment of death or in the technique of inducing that stage of control known as Samadhi.

8. When the directing Agent in the head, deliberately and by an act of the will, raises the accumulated energies at the base of the spine, he draws them into the magnetic field of the centres up the spine and blends them with the dual energy emanating from the spleen.  The spinal tract with its five centres then awakens into activity, and finally all the forces are gathered together into one fused and blended stream of energy.  Three things then happen:

a. The kundalini fire is raised and immediately burns away all the etheric webs which are the protective barriers, separating the various centres.

b. The etheric body intensifies its vitality, and the physical body is consequently powerfully vitalised, galvanised, and energised.

c. The entire aura is coordinated and illumined, and the soul can then, at will, withdraw from its physical vehicle in full waking consciousness, or stay in it as an incarnated Son of God, Whose consciousness is complete on the physical plane, the astral plane, and on the mental levels, as well as in the three aspects of lower mind, causal consciousness and nirvanic realisation.  This process finds its consummation at the third initiation.

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In the life of the aspirant, the power to cause this tremendous happening is dependent upon the carrying forward of the inner subjective and spiritual work previously described as the "building of the bridge on the mental plane" between the above mentioned three aspects.  For the race of men as a whole, this work began in the middle of our Aryan race, and is today going forward very rapidly.  For the individual aspirant, the work has always been possible right down the ages, and it is the major task undertaken by disciples at this time.  It might be added here that the New Group of World Servers is composed of those who are engaged in this work for the race, and every person who builds his bridge joins this group of occult "bridge-builders".  There is, therefore, something symbolic about the work of our modern bridge builders who join the chasms and span the waters and thus give concrete evidence of the work being done today by advanced humanity.

It now becomes possible to consider the process whereby a man bridges the gulf or gap (speaking symbolically) which exists between the personal lower self and the higher Self, as the latter functions in its own world.  This has to be bridged before at-one-ment can be achieved and complete integration of the entire man can be brought about.  To understand clearly what occurs, it will be wise to define more accurately what that higher nature is, and of what it consists.

We have seen in our studies that the soul is a dual blend of energies—the energy of life and the energy of mind—as far as its relation to the mechanism is temporarily concerned.  The merging of these two energies in the human mechanism produces what we call consciousness—at first self-consciousness and finally group-consciousness.  The mechanism is, in its own nature, also a blend or fusion of energies—the energy of substance itself which takes the form of the atomic structure [68] of the physical body, plus the vitality which animates that body, and, secondly, the energy of that body which we call the astral body, distinguished by sensitivity, emotional activity, and that magnetic force which we call desire.  There is, finally, the energy of mind itself.  These four types of energy form what we call the lower personal self, but it is the higher mental aspect of the mind which links, subjectively, this personality and the soul.  It is the lower consciousness which (when developed) enables a man eventually to make conscious contact with the higher.  It is the lower concretising mind which must be awakened, understood and used with definiteness before the higher mind can become the medium through which knowledge can be gained of those realities which constitute the kingdom of God.  Intellect must be unfolded before the intuition can be correctly evoked.

We have, therefore, in the case of man, two groups of major energies dominating, as a result of a long experience of incarnation in form, the energy of the astral or desire nature and the energy of mind.  When these are fused and blended, thoroughly organised and utilised, then we see a functioning and powerful Personality.  Seeking to impose itself upon these energies and to subordinate them to higher and different aims is to be found that blended energy-unit which we call the soul.  Its two energies (mind and love, the latter being also a dual form of energy) are anchored, if one may use this word in a symbolic and esoteric sense, in the human brain, whilst the life principle, as we have seen, is anchored in the human heart.  The four energies of the lower self—atomic energy, vital energy, feeling energy and mental energy—plus the two energies of the soul, make the six energies used by man in his life experience; but the energy of the atom is usually not counted as a human energy, as it is uniform in its usage in all [69] forms of life in all kingdoms, and therefore man is regarded as a sum total of five energies, and not of six energies.

The human soul (in contradistinction to the soul as it functions in its own kingdom, free from the limitations of human life) is imprisoned by and subject to the control of the lower energies for the major part of its experience.  Then, upon the Path of Probation, the dual energy of the soul begins to be increasingly active, and the man seeks consciously to use his mind, and to express love-wisdom on the physical plane.  This is a simple statement of the objective of all aspirants.  When the five energies are beginning to be used consciously and wisely in service, a rhythm is then set up between the personality and the soul.  It is as if a magnetic field were then established, and these two vibrating and magnetic units, or grouped energies, begin to swing into each others field of influence.  In the early stages, this happens only occasionally and rarely.  Later it occurs more constantly, and thus a path of contact is established which eventually becomes the line of least resistance, "the way of familiar approach", as it is sometimes esoterically called.  Thus the first half of the "bridge", the antaskarana, is constructed.  By the time the third initiation is undergone, this way is completed, and the initiate can "pass to higher worlds at will, leaving the lower worlds far behind; or he can come again and pass upon the way that leads from dark to light, from light to dark, and from the under, lower worlds into the realms of light".

Thus the two are one, and the first great unison upon the path of return is complete.  A second stage of the way has then to be trodden, leading to a second union of still greater importance in that it leads to complete liberation from the three worlds.  It must be remembered that the soul, in its turn, is a union of two energies, plus the energy of spirit, of which the lower three are the reflection.  It is a synthesis of the [70] energy of Life itself (which demonstrates as the life-principle within the world of forms), of the energy of the intuition, or spiritual love-wisdom or understanding (which demonstrates as sensitivity and feeling in the astral body), and of spiritual mind, whose reflection in the lower nature is the mind or the principle of intelligence in the form world.  In these three energies we have the atma-buddhi-manas of the theosophical literature.  They are that higher triplicity which is reflected in the lower three, and which focusses through the soul body on the higher levels of the mental plane before being "precipitated into incarnation", as it is esoterically called.

Modernising the concept, we might say that the energies which animate the physical body and the intelligent life of the atom, the sensitive emotional states, and the intelligent mind have eventually to be blended with, and transmuted into, the energies which animate the soul.  These are the spiritual mind, conveying illumination; the intuitive nature, conferring spiritual perception; and divine livingness.

After the third initiation the "Way" is carried forward with great rapidity, and the "bridge" is finished which links perfectly the higher spiritual Triad and the lower material reflection.  The three worlds of the soul and the three worlds of the Personality become one world wherein the initiate works and functions, seeing no distinction, viewing one world as the world of inspiration and the other world as constituting the field of service, yet regarding both together as forming one world of activity.  Of these two worlds, the subjective etheric body (or the body of vital inspiration) and the dense physical body are symbols on the external plane.

How is this bridging antaskarana to be built?  What are the steps which the disciple must follow?  We are not here considering the Path of Probation whereon the major faults [71] should be eliminated and whereon the major virtues should be developed.  Much of the spiritual instruction given in the past has laid down the rules for the cultivation of the virtues and qualifications for discipleship, and also the necessity for self-control, for tolerance and for unselfishness.  But these are elementary stages and should be taken for granted by all students of this Treatise.  Such students are presumably occupied not only with the establishment of the character aspect of discipleship, but with the more abstruse and difficult requirements for those whose goal is initiation.

It is with the work of the "bridge-builders" that we are concerned.  First, let it be stated that the real building of the antaskarana only takes place when the disciple is beginning to be definitely focussed upon mental levels, and when therefore his mind is intelligently and consciously functioning.  He must begin at this stage to have some more exact idea than has hitherto been the case as to the distinctions existing between the Thinker, the apparatus of thought, and thought itself, beginning with its dual esoteric function which is:

1. The recognition of, and receptivity to, Ideas.

2. The creative faculty of conscious thought-form building.

This necessarily involves a strong mental attitude and a reorientation of the mind to reality.  As the disciple begins to focus himself on the mental plane (and this is the prime intent of the meditation work) he starts working in mental matter and trains himself in the powers and uses of thought.  He achieves a measure of mind control; he can turn the searchlight of the mind in two directions—into the world of human endeavor, and into the world of soul activity.  Just as the soul makes a way for itself by projecting itself in a thread or stream of energy into the three worlds, so the disciple begins [72] consciously to project himself into the higher worlds.  His energy goes forth, through the medium of the controlled and directed mind, into the world of higher spiritual mind and into the realm of the intuition.  A reciprocal activity is thus set up.  This response between the higher and lower mind is symbolically spoken of in terms of light, and the "lighted way" (a term frequently employed) comes into being between the personality and the spiritual Triad, via the soul body, just as the soul came into definite contact with the brain via the mind.  This "lighted way" is the illumined bridge.  It is built through meditation; it is constructed through the constant effort to draw forth the intuition, through subservience and obedience to the Plan (which begins to be recognised as soon as the intuition and the mind are en rapport) and through a conscious incorporation into the group in service and for purposes of assimilation into the whole.  All these qualities and activities are based upon the foundation of good character and the qualities developed upon the Probationary Path.

The effort to draw forth the intuition requires directed occult (but not aspirational) meditation.  It requires a trained intelligence, so that the line of demarcation between intuitive realisation and the forms of the higher psychism may be clearly seen.  It requires a constant disciplining of the mind, so that it can "hold itself steady in the light", and the development of a cultured right interpretation so that the intuitive knowledge which has been achieved may then clothe itself in the right thought forms.

Subservience or obedience to the Plan involves something else than a vague and misty realisation that God has a Plan and that we are included in it.  It is more than a hiding of oneself in the shadow of the will of God.  It necessitates a wise differentiation between:

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1. The general perspective and the large world Plan for the planet, and

2. Those immediate stages of the Plan in which intelligent cooperation is, at this time, and in the immediate present, demanded.

A deep interest in the final root races and speculation as to the life going forward on other planets may be of interest, but it is relatively futile and useless; it fertilises unduly the imagination, causing love of uncheckable detail, loss of time in wild surmises, and the chimeras of an unenlightened intellect.  That part of the Plan which relates to its immediate application is of interest and usefulness.  Obedience to the immediate purpose and duty is distinctive of the trained disciple.  Those who know far more of the Plan than we can, refuse to let Their minds dwell on the unprovable, yet possible, hypotheses for future racial development.  They focus Their attention on that which must be attended to at this immediate time.  I would urge all disciples to do the same, for in so doing it is possible to bridge the gap and link the two shores of the higher and the lower stages of consciousness, between the old age and the new, between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of men, and thus to take their place in the ranks of the New Group of World Servers, whose arduous task calls for our sacrificing effort.  Conscious incorporation in the group necessitates the cessation of personality life, and brings out the subordination of the little self to the work of the whole.  These words are easily written and read; they embody, however, the task of all disciples at this time.  Where this incentive and realisation are lacking, the disciple is still a long way from his goal.

It might also be stated here that the construction of the bridge whereby the consciousness can function with facility [74] both in the higher worlds and in the lower, is primarily brought about by a definitely directed life-tendency, which steadily drives the man in the direction of the world of spiritual realities, and certain dynamic movements of planned and carefully timed and directed orientation or focussing.  In this last process, the gain of the past months or years is closely assessed; the effect of that gain upon the daily life and in the bodily mechanisms is as carefully studied; and the will-to-live as a spiritual being is wrought into the consciousness with a definiteness and a determination that make for immediate progress.

Disciples in the groups of some of the Masters (not of all) are encouraged, every seven years, to do this and to subject themselves to what is esoterically called a "crisis of polarisation".  This process is in the nature of a review, such as one imposes on the consciousness at night, only it is carried over a period of years instead of hours.  This thought merits consideration.

This building of the antaskarana is most assuredly proceeding in the case of every dedicated aspirant.  When the work is carried on intelligently and with full awareness of the desired purpose, and when the aspirant not only recognizes the process, but is alert and active in its fulfillment, then the work proceeds apace and the bridge is built.

One thing only need be added in connection with this building of the antaskarana, and that is the statement of the significant fact that the more people can achieve this linking of the higher and lower aspects of the human nature, the more rapidly will the task of salvaging the world proceed.  The more painstakingly and persistently this work is carried forward, the sooner will the Hierarchy of the planet resume Its ancient task and status in the world, and the sooner will [75] the Mysteries be restored and the world function, therefore, more consciously in line with the Plan.  Every single unit of the human family who achieves success upon the Path of Discipleship may be, in himself, relatively of small importance.  But the massed units are of tremendous potency.  I tell you at this time for your cheering and encouragement that the numbers of the disciples in the world are greatly increasing.  Suffering and trouble, apprehension and the processes whereby detachment and dispassion are enforced, are doing their needed work.  Here and there throughout the world, in every nation and practically every week, men and women are stepping off the Path of Probation on to the Path of Discipleship.  In this lies the hope of the world today.  In this fact is to be found the greatly increased activity of the Masters.

This event, or this transition, never takes place before the first fine strand of energy (like the first steel cable on a physical bridge) has anchored itself on the further shore; thus a delicate and (at first) almost nebulous channel of communication is established between the higher nature and the lower, between the world of the soul and the worlds of human affairs.  Each month, at the time of the full moon, the Masters are intensifying Their efforts, and men and women are being prepared for the process of Initiation with as much rapidity as is safely possible.  Remember that understanding must always parallel the intellectual grasp of a subject, and it is this that holds back some disciples from this great step forward.

In the performance of the next duty, in the establishing of the dedicated life tendency towards reality, in the dispelling of illusion, and in the performance of service with love and understanding,—thus is the work carried forward.  Is this [76] effort beyond the reach of any of us?  Or are its implications beyond our comprehension?  I do not think so.

c. SEVEN RAY METHODS OF APPROPRIATION

As we have seen, this process of appropriation is a dual matter, or rather, it involves a dual activity—that of taking and giving, of grasping and relinquishing, of establishing a hold upon that which is desired, and of detaching oneself from that which has been held.  The various types of human beings who come forth along one or other of the seven rays, have each their specific way of doing this.  These I shall indicate.  At the same time, it must be borne in mind that the true significance of that which is portrayed and the meaning of what happens can only be understood by those who are in the process of this relinquishment.  The stage of appropriation is undergone blindly and unconsciously.  Man knows not what he does.  It is only towards the end of his long pilgrimage and process of appropriation that he discovers how tired he actually is of grasping the non-essential and the material, and how ready he is for the work of detachment.  In the life of every human being on the physical plane, who has lived fully and to the full term of years, this dual process can be symbolically seen.  In youth the thoughtless (and all are thoughtless, for such is nature's way) hold on to life and give no thought to the time when there must be a relinquishment of the hold on physical existence.  The young forget, and rightly forget, the inevitability of that final symbolic detachment which we call Death.  But when life has played its part and age has taken its toll of interests and strength, the tired and world-weary man has no fear of the detaching process and seeks not to hold on to that which earlier was desired.  He welcomes death, and relinquishes willingly that which earlier engrossed his attention.

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In considering the processes of appropriation, the following phrases should be studied, as they throw a light upon the various stages from different angles:—

1. The stage of concretisation and materialisation.  The soul takes to itself what it needs and desires for form building.

2. The stage of incarnation, taken at this time blindly.

3. The period wherein satisfaction of the desires is the major goal.  These range all the way from physical desire and its satisfaction to a general and undefined desire for release.

4. The processes, in detail, of appropriating

a. A body or bodies.

b. A sheath or sheaths.

c. A vehicle or vehicles.

d. A form or forms.

5. Immersion in darkness.  This was the result of desire.  The darkness of ignorance was chosen and man started, through desire, to work his way from darkness to light, from ignorance to knowledge, from the unreal to the Real.  Such is the great symbolic work of Masonry.  It is an elucidation of the Way of Relinquishment.

6. The Path of outgoing in order to possess.

7. Selfishness, the major characteristic of the self in relation to, and identified with, the not-self.

8. Love of possession, the prostitution of spiritual love.

9. Acquisitiveness, the illusion of material need.

10. The period called in the Bible, that of "riotous living" on the part of the Prodigal Son.

11. The application and use of energy for personal, selfish intent.

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12. Personality life, with all that is therein implied,—ambition, selfish purpose, etc.

13. Attachment to the seen, the known, and the familiar, external, objective forms.

14. The stage wherein thought forms are built, at first ignorantly, and then with deliberate selfishness.

15. The period of engrossment in the things of the kingdom of earth.

16. The world, the flesh, and the devil.

On the side of soul expression, which is governed by detachment, the following phrases and sentences will give an idea of the progress and intent:—

1. The stage of spiritualisation and of de-materialisation.  The soul functions with the purpose of liberation before it, and not of further physical plane experience.

2. The relinquishment of form life.

3. The period wherein satiety is experienced; the desires have been so dominant and so often satisfied that they no longer attract.

4. The process, in detail, of liberation from

a. A body or bodies.

b. A sheath or sheaths.

c. A vehicle or vehicles.

d. A form or forms.

5. Emergence into light, a symbolic way of expressing the reverse of immersion in darkness.

6. The Path of Return, motivated by the wish to appropriate nothing for the separated self.  The beginning of group consciousness and of group work.

7. Selflessness, the major characteristic of the Soul or Self.

8. Freedom from the desire to possess, freedom from acquisitiveness, and therefore the state of desirelessness.

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9. The establishing of the sense of reality as the ruling principle of the life.

10. The return of the Prodigal Son to the Fathers home.

11. The application and use of energy for group purpose and in cooperation with the Plan for the whole.

12. The life of the soul with all that is implied in that phrase.

13. Love of God in contradistinction to love of self.

14. Attachment to the unseen, the true, the subjective and the Real, which is only possible when there has been detachment from the seen, the false, the objective and the unreal.

15. Complete liberation from the control of the lower mind.

16. The period wherein the centre of interest is the kingdom of God and of the soul.

17. Reality.  Formlessness.  God.

It should be remembered, when considering the seven ray methods of appropriation and the reverse stages, that we are dealing with energies.  Occult students must increasingly think and work in terms of energy.  These energies are spoken of esoterically as "having impulsive effects, magnetic appeals, and focussed activities."  The streams or emanations of energy exist, as is well known, in seven major aspects or qualities.  They carry the sons of men into incarnation and withdraw them from incarnation.  They have their own specific qualities and characteristics, and these determine the nature of the forms constructed, the quality of the life which is expressed at any particular time or in any particular incarnation, the length of the life cycle, and the appearance and disappearance of any of the three form aspects.  Certain brief paragraphs will suffice to define each of the stages of appropriation.  The paragraphs which detail the methods of detachment have been given earlier in A Treatise on White Magic.

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Ray One.  The Energy of Will or Power.  The Destroyer Aspect.