This post continues the process of explaining what takes place during the First Initiation (enlightenment experience or expansion of consciousness) as described by Alice Bailey. Part Two talks about the basic symbolism that is connected with the First Initiation (looking at symbols from different religious traditions). Then it takes us through first of three stages connected to the First Initiation: the Preparation phase.
CHAPTER NINE: FIRST INITIATION, Part Two
THE FIRST INITIATION — BASIC SYMBOLISM
When Bailey talks about her various initiations she borrows primarily from the symbolism found in the Christian tradition. She even wrote an entire book about this symbolism titled From Bethlehem to Calvary. (Note: This was one of the books she said she wrote from her own thoughts and did not feel as if she was telepathically getting dictation from the person she called the Tibetan). In this book we find a good break down of the symbolism of the various events surrounding what are considered to be five initiations (major events that involved expansions of consciousness) in the life of Jesus. They are: Birth, Baptism, Transfiguration, Crucifixion, Resurrection.
PARALLELS OF CHRISTIAN BIRTH STORY SYMBOLS WITH OTHER TRADITIONS
In her book From Bethlehem to Calvary, Bailey outlines how these basic elements of the Christian story and many other elements of the life of Jesus parallel events of world saviors or teachers found in other traditions (even from those who were born long before Jesus, such as Krishna and Buddha). In general Bailey says as follows about some of the common themes of Jesus’ life that are found elsewhere. She states, “The Jesus-story, it will now be seen, has a greater number of correspondences with the stories of former Sungods and with the actual career of the Sun through the heavens—so many indeed that they cannot well be attributed to mere coincidence or even to the blasphemous wiles of the Devil! Let us enumerate some of these. There are (1) birth from a Virgin mother; (2) the birth in a stable (cave or underground chamber); and (3) on the 25th December (just after the winter solstice). There is (4) the Star in the East (Sirius) and (5) the arrival of the Magi (the `Three Kings’); there is (6) the threatened Massacre of the Innocents, and the consequent flight into a distant country (told also of Krishna and other Sungods). There are the Church festivals of (7) Candlemas (2nd February), with processions of candles to symbolise the growing light; of (8) Lent, or the arrival of Spring; of (9) Easter Day (normally on 25th March) to celebrate the crossing of the Equator by the Sun; and (10) simultaneously the outburst of lights at the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem.
There is (11) the Crucifixion and death of the Lamb-God, on Good Friday, three days before Easter; there are (12) the nailing to a tree, (13) the empty grave, (14) the glad Resurrection (as in the cases of Osiris, Attis and others); there are (15) the twelve disciples (the Zodiacal signs); and (16) the betrayal by one of the twelve. Then later there is (17) Mid-summer Day, the 24th June, dedicated to the birth of the beloved disciple John, and corresponding to Christmas Day; there are the festivals of (18) the Assumption of the Virgin (15th August) and of (19) the Nativity of the Virgin (8th September), corresponding to the movement of the god through Virgo; there is the conflict of Christ and his disciples with the autumnal asterisms, (20) the Serpent and the Scorpion; and finally there is the curious fact that the Church (21) dedicates the very day of the winter solstice (when any one may very naturally doubt the re-birth of the Sun) to St. Thomas, who doubted the truth of the Resurrection!” [lxviii] 40 Any student of comparative religion can investigate the truth of these statements, and at the end will stand amazed at the persistence of God’s love and the willingness to sacrifice Themselves which all these Sons of God manifest” From Bethlehem to Calvary, pp. 60—61.
Though the above is fascinating I have no desire to suddenly get into a long treatise here on the symbolism surrounding these stages. Though it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the stories of Jesus parallel so many other faiths. The parents of Jesus (Joseph and Mary) are documented to have taken Jesus to Egypt. Hundreds of years before Alexander the Great (of Greece) had conquered all the surrounding territory extending up into Europe, throughout the Mediterranean, down into Egypt and Africa, all the way into India before he was stopped. He carried the spoils of his conquests into the city of Alexandria in Egypt setting up the famous Alexandria library. There it is highly probable that an intermixing of different religions, Though some people claim that Jesus may have traveled to India during his undocumented years from age 2 to 30, he didn’t need to do so to be exposed to various hidden esoteric traditions of Egyptian religion, Buddhist and Hindu religions, and pagan religions from Greece, Rome and beyond. Gurus, monks, rabbis, and priests from these various faiths could easily have come to him in Egypt. (Note: I am not refuting the idea that Jesus may have gone to India and these other regions during his youth. I am simply saying that it would not have been necessary for him to do so since Egypt was already a mecca for these various faiths to intermingle).
Rather I want to focus at this time solely on what the First Initiation may involve that included the following basic symbolism surrounding the birth of Jesus. Mary and Joseph could not find room at the Inn. So they were given a stable (some say a cave) where Mary (who was a virgin when she conceived Jesus) gave birth to Jesus and put him in a manger. The night he was born a star shone brightly over his head. Angels appeared and sang in delight. Shepherds arrived along with the ox and lambs and all bowed down to the baby Jesus laying in his manger. Later (some say that night, others say two years later) three wise men appeared who had followed the star to get to Jesus. They gave him three gifts: frankincense, gold, and myrrh. Quite a remarkable series of events. Obviously this was not just an ordinary infant. There was something special about him to have so many amazing things happen at his birth. That is an exoteric literal reading of the events of the classic Christian story. Having got a general sense of the overall symbolism, let us focus now on just what is involved in the First Initiation and what some of the common themes may represent.
THE FIRST INITIATION — PREPARATION STAGE
To begin with let’s recall that the Path of Probation is also known as the Path of Purification. In previous chapters of this book Becoming Soul, and I have done my best to organize the Bailey material so it is easier to see what is involved on that path in regards to purifying the mind, emotions and physical body so that they can be “prepared” to be a fit instrument for the Soul. As we reach the Chela in the Light stage a certain level of purification needs to have taken place for the First Initiation to take place.
NINE MONTHS OF GESTATION
This purification process typically takes place during a period of gestation, which is usually symbolized as taking up to nine months. Bailey says that the “the Probationary Path corresponds to the latter period of gestation, to the building in the heart of the babe in Christ” Initiation: Human & Solar, p. 63. Once a sufficient amount of purification has taken place, the “womb” becomes pure or “virginal” allowing for a “virgin” or “pure birth” to occur. That is when the First Initiation takes places. Bailey says, “At the first initiation this babe starts on the pilgrimage of the Path. The first initiation stands simply for commencement. A certain structure of right living, thinking, and conduct has been built up. That form we call character. It has now to be vivified and indwelt. Thackeray has well described this process of building, in the words so often quoted:— ‘Sow a thought and reap an action; sow an action and reap a habit; sow a habit and reap character; sow character and reap destiny.’ The immortal destiny of each and all of us is to attain the consciousness of the higher self, and subsequently that of the Divine Spirit. When the form is ready, when Solomon’s temple has been built in the quarry of the personal life, then the Christ-life enters, and the glory of the Lord overshadows His temple. The form becomes vibrant. Therein lies the difference between theory and making that theory part of oneself. One can have a perfect image or picture, but it lacks life. The life can be modeled on the divine as far as may be; it may be an excellent copy but lacks the indwelling Christ principle. The germ has been there, but it has lain dormant. Now it is fostered and brought to the birth and the first initiation is attained.” Initiation: Human & Solar, p. 63—64.
Getting the form (or womb) ready through various processes of purification, making sure Solomon’s temple (the foundation stones of having an Integrated Personality in place) is essential here. Without these things in place a number of things can go wrong. The birth may be premature. Not enough purification may have taken place to allow for an easier birth. The foundation stones of the temple may not all be in place so that the person goes through the First Initiation process without the resources, understanding or support to make the birth easier than it might be otherwise. The Christ-life (Soul consciousness) may still enter in, but as we shall see the process of Assimilation (the third phase of the First Initiation) may take a lot longer because too much mental confusion, emotional upheaval, and physical instability may be going on. If too much of this exists the First Initiation, or “birth,” may even be aborted. The person may even have to backtrack from the Chela in the Light phase back into the Probationary Discipleship phase to do more preparation, or purificatory work (ideally by following more carefully the various rules that Bailey suggests to help one prepare so that the First Initiation process is likely to go more smoothly).
NINE HEADS OF THE HYDRA
These nine months could be related to the nine heads of the Hydra that Hercules of Greek mythology has to slay. Bailey has this to say about the Nine Heads of the Hydra. “The task assigned to Hercules had nine facets. Each head of the hydra represents one of the problems beset the courageous person who seeks to achieve mastery of himself. Three of these heads symbolize the appetites associated with sex, comfort and money. The second triune group concerns the passions of fear, hatred and desire for power. The last three heads represent the vices of the unillumined mind: pride, separativeness and cruelty” Labours of Hercules, p. 144.
As we look at these nine heads of the Hydra we see how they mirror the problems of those within Group 6 in association with the Integrated Personality at its height of power and influence and why this stage is such a dangerous one to go through. We also see how on the Probationary Path, the Probationer, like Hercules, is attempting to come to grips with these negative tendencies within oneself, not by trying to suppress or cut it off (when Hercules cuts off one head, three more are said to grow back in its place). Rather the heads are destroyed by lifting them up into the light of the Soul, which comes about by understanding and purifying these drives in such a way they serve us and do not take us over in a negative way.
Again we have 9 months of gestation where the nine heads of the Hydra (Integrated Personality tendencies) have been sufficiently incubated in a more purified or “virginal” womb, so that the negative tendencies of these nine heads are now put into the light, or illuminated enough, that the Chela in the Light can now be trusted to live the spiritual life not as an idea, an aspiration, a theory, or an occasional attempt, but as an increasingly disciplined way of living one’s life. The Probationary Disciple has become the Accepting Disciple, willingly and consciously embracing the values and consciousness of the Soul causing that Soul to shine forth or be born. And, to honor this three kings show up representing the mental, emotional, and physical bodies. Each king brings the Chela in the Light (Accepting Disciple) a gift. What are these gifts? Gold, frankincense and myrrh.
THE THREE GIFTS
Gold represents the material and physical world and the desire for wealth and money. Gold is used as a valuable symbol for wealth because it simulates the light of the sun. It’s golden color is due to it having the correct energy difference between its 5d and 6s electron subshells that help it absorb photos of blue light. By the time one reaches the stage of Chela in the Light one has to have demonstrated that the temptation to use one’s wealth and money (or “bread” as Jesus also represents this) for selfish purposes no longer exists. Rather, all that one gains in the way of wealth, money, “bread” will be used responsibly to further bring Soul values into the world for the good of all, not just oneself. And, when we say that it will be used responsibly we are not saying that it is alright to avoid all responsibility in regards to money and wealth. We saw how in the Probationary Discipleship phase the desire to escape having to earn a living or deal with money exists. We also saw how Probationary Disciples tend to justify their lack of money and financial support as due to the failure of others to see their “high spiritual status” and giving them money for free because of it. The inability to attract and use money and wealth well so that one can lead a stable life and do their soul service in the world, or to become corrupt with money and have a spiritual fall from grace are both signs that one is a Probationary Disciple (or a Little Chela) and not a Chela in the Light. They do not yet merit the “gift of gold” from the “three kings” who bring this gift (enough financial stability to do one’s service work) because one has demonstrated they can handle it, not because one can avoid it or be corrupted by it.
As for frankincense, Bailey says that it, “symbolises the emotional nature, with its aspirations, wishes and longing, and this aspiration must rise as incense to the feet of God. Incense is also a symbol of purification, of that burning which removes all dross and leaves only the essence for the blessing of God” From Bethlehem to Calvary, p. 74. What is interesting about the Frankincense is that modern day chemists know that one of its chemical compounds (incensole acetate) helps alleviate both anxiety and depression. The highs and lows that the typical Little Chela (as an Aspirant and Probationary Disciple) go through have had to become much more relatively stable by the time the Chela in the Light stage is reached. That does not mean that one has no emotions or is still not subject to anxiety and depression. They are just managed in a much better way so these (and other emotional states like anger) no longer are as likely to get in the way of the Soul service of the soon to be Accepted Disciple to come.
As for Myrrh? Bailey says, “Myrrh or bitterness relates to the mind. It is through the mind that we suffer as human beings, and the further the race progresses and the more the mind develops, the greater seems the capacity for suffering. But when suffering is seen in its true light and dedicated to divinity, it can be used as an instrument whereby we approach nearer to God. Then we can offer to God that rare and wonderful gift of a mind made wise through pain, and a heart made kind through distress and through difficulty surmounted” From Bethlehem to Calvary, p. 73. Looking at the chemical compounds in myrrh is it interesting to see that modern day science indicates that it tends to have an analgesic effect. An analgesic is a painkiller (like Bayer, Motrin, Tylenol) that helps one to achieve analgesia or relief from pain. Analgesic drugs act in various ways on the peripheral and central nervous systems. When one is engaged in pranayama (or breathing exercises) they are attempting to calm the mind by bringing the “prana” and breath into the “shushumna” or central channel that corresponds with the central nervous system. We see therefore the direct connection of myrrh as something that helps to alleviate suffering and balance out one’s mental state more. Interestingly enough as we shall soon see when we discuss the Expansion stage of the First Initiation, the presence of these three actual substances can literally help one go through the First Initiation since they will have “gold” or money to provide a stable physical environment to help them get through the birth process, “frankincense” or ways to help stay more emotionally stable when experiencing some of the highs and lows that might go along with the birth process, and “myrrh” or ways to alleviate the mental pain of chaos that can produce undue suffering in regards to encountering the various insights that the First Initiation reveals.
Though Bailey is using Christian symbolism here, but we don’t really need to get stuck to Christian metaphors. You can derive a similar understanding of this process from other world religions, or even from no religious metaphors used at all. Simply said, what we are seeing is that when the motivation to do good is strong enough, and the character of any individual is steady enough to finally have their physical, emotional, and mental inclinations come from a place of unselfishness versus selfishness, then the preparation stage of the First Initiation turns into the expansion stage where some sort of inner realization is happening. What does that inner realization look like? Let’s take a look.
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