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The Rays and the Initiations - Part Two - Section One - The Aspirant and the Mysteries of Initiation
The third initiation, therefore, releases the initiate from the planes of unprincipled substance (the lower subplanes of the cosmic physical plane), whilst the next two initiations make it possible for him to work with intelligence [360] and love on the two lower levels of the cosmic etheric plane - the buddhic and the atmic, the planes of spiritual love and intelligent will. The Way of the Higher Evolution leads through the monadic and logoic planes (the two highest levels of the cosmic physical plane); when the four planes of the cosmic etheric plane are completely mastered and under occult direction, the initiate is faced with the seven Paths and with the choice to tread one or other of them. His choice is naturally dependent upon ray determinations and past activity but is nevertheless a free choice, because all limitation has been removed, all wrong identification with physical forms is now impossible, and the initiate's only limitation is that imposed by entrance into cosmic levels of awareness with which he is still unfamiliar. Bear, therefore, continually in mind that the highest spiritual attainment upon and within the seven planes of our recognized planetary life is entirely conditioned by the fact that they are the seven subplanes of the cosmic physical plane and are composed of the three dense physical planes (our three worlds of human evolution) and the four cosmic etheric planes (the four levels of so-called spiritual development); these are conditioned by three forces and four energies. I have emphasized this by constant repetition on account of the great importance the recognition of these facts will play in any grasp you may achieve anent the Way of the Higher Evolution.

After the Master has taken the fifth initiation, He has - as you know - covered and mastered the ordinary field of evolution for humanity; that means the three worlds of ordinary human experience and the two worlds of superhuman effort, making the five fields of the spiritual activity of man. Love and intelligence are now perfectly developed in Him, though their expression and emphasis may vary according to His rays; He is aware of the fact of the Will or of the first divine aspect, with its two qualities (veiling a third) of destruction and of purpose; He is becoming active on the second plane of our planetary life, the monadic plane, and that great center of life, Shamballa, is having a [361] definite vibratory effect upon Him; also (and this will be incomprehensible to you) He is becoming sensitive to a range of energies and influences which can now be registered by Him, owing to His increasing monadic polarization and His contact with Shamballa.

The cosmic astral plane becomes, for the Master, a definite objective; He is beginning to develop a great sensitivity to that level of awareness, but consciousness of that within the planetary life - as He knows it - prevents Him from registering this energy of pure cosmic love as He later will. It is this sense of limitation which is the cause of His recognition of the Door on to the Way of the Higher Evolution, for the fifth and sixth initiations liberate Him into the atmic and monadic states of awareness; these initiations are to the initiate at this stage of development what the first and second initiations are to the disciple who is seeking to tread the earlier stages of the Path of Initiation. They might therefore be regarded as initiations of the threshold - one leading to the awareness of the higher levels of conscious unfoldment which the third initiation (the first major initiation) inaugurates, and the other to those levels of impression, of contact and of future ascension which are the sevenfold goal set before the Master when the sixth initiation (the true ascension) is consummated. It is for this reason that this particular initiation is called the Initiation of Decision. The Master then chooses which of the seven Ways or Paths He will follow, because His aeonial experience has enabled Him to choose any of them and know that He has chosen aright. Though these seven Paths, being one of the septenates, are necessarily related to the seven rays, they are not ray paths, nor are they governed by the seven rays. Any one of them is open to a Master of the Wisdom, and His choice will not be dependent upon His ray type, though He will take that factor into consideration. They are more definitely related to the seven cosmic planes than to the seven rays; this we will consider in greater detail when dealing with the factor of the seven Ashrams which are "proving" grounds for all the Masters confronted with the Initiation of Decision. [362]

Disciples are more apt to be interested in the Ashrams from the angle of their own development; they are not prone to remember that the life progress and purpose of the Master not only determines the quality of the Ashram but that His own development and His eventual decisions are closely related to the Ashram which He controls. It is not easy for students to shift their attention away from the relation of the Ashram to humanity as a whole, or to realize that this relation is secondary to the Master Whose primary preoccupation is the unfoldment of the purposes of Sanat Kumara and the attainment of that state of Being which is significant of Shamballa. Students need to bear in mind that one phase of preparation for future work is that which will succeed the Initiation of Decision, and that this is dependent upon the type, quality and service rendered by the Master as He conditions and controls His Ashram. This I will attempt to enlarge upon under our next heading. It is useful however, for aspirants to discipleship, and above all for those preparing for initiation and consequently already working in an Ashram, to get this different point of view and begin to unfold within themselves a new sensitivity to impression coming from sources higher than the Hierarchy itself. This involves in them a new and higher type of orientation, and though it remains as yet impossible of attainment there is definite developing value in a grasp of the concept and the effort of the abstract mind and the intuitive perception to seize upon and reflect upon a new and entirely foreign concept. This higher reflective process is to the disciple who is working in an Ashram what aspiration is to the student upon the Probationary Path and the early stages of the Path of Discipleship.

In the latter case, the aspirant's emotional body becomes responsive to the principle of buddhi, reaching him via the love petals of the egoic lotus; in the more exalted situation, the disciple becomes aware (for that is all it is) of the possibility of an impression reaching him from the cosmic astral plane, via monadic levels of awareness. Note what I say - simply the possibility; for there is at this stage no assured [363] recognition of this goal; it is an impression which is to the disciple preparing for one of the higher initiations what an occult theory is to an aspirant on very much lower levels. The only way in which I can give any faintest idea of the higher reaches of the initiate consciousness will be through reference to lower grasped capacities and the presentation of undefinable truths in terms of that which has been defined and which (to these higher states of awareness) are in the nature of seed thoughts.

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