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A Treatise on White Magic - Rule Fifteen - The Negation of the Great Illusion
The Negation of the Great Illusion

The phrase in Rule XV which says "that blend the fire and water" has reference to the effect produced at the [612] point of condensation, after the great words bringing about that effect have been pronounced. This rule is almost incapable of explanation and it is not permitted to me to give to you the words that effect this process. Only some hints may be given which will serve to encourage the true aspirant to think and may alas, only irritate the casual thinker who seeks easy and quick methods and formulas through which to work. Heat and moisture are present in the production of all forms of life, but the great mystery (and almost the final mystery to be explained to the adept) is how the merging of three fires can produce moisture or the watery element. This problem and this phenomenon constitute the basis of the Great Illusion to which the ancient books refer; through the agency of the combination, the enveloping maya is produced. There is, in reality, no such thing as water; the watery sphere, the astral plane, is, could you but realize it, an illusory effect and has no real existence. Yet - in time and space and to the understanding of the witnessing consciousness - it is more real than that which it hides and conceals. I cannot make this clearer in words. It is only possible to suggest to the intelligent student that the light of his soul (reflected in his mind) and the energy of form (as expressed in his etheric body) are for him, in the realm of temporary duality, his two basic realities. The watery nature of his astral experience in which these two aspects of divinity seem (again illusion, be it noted) to meet and work is but a glamorous phenomenon and in an occult sense is not based on fact. Any true aspirant knows that his spiritual progress can be gauged in terms of his freedom from this illusion and of his release into the clear air and pure light of his spiritual consciousness. In its consciousness, the animal kingdom works with the second of these two basic realities, and for it the life of the etheric body and the force which governs the animal or material nature are the [613] prime expression of truth. Yet the animal is beginning to sense dimly the world of illusion and possesses certain psychic powers and senses which recognize yet fail to interpret the astral plane. The veil of illusion is beginning to fall before the eyes of the animal but it knows it not. The human being has wandered for ages in the world of illusion, for it is of his own creating. Yet man in his turn, from the standpoint of consciousness, has contact with both the realities and learns little by little to dissipate the illusion by the steady growth of the radiant light of the soul. May I pause here to remind you that duality is only a stage on the evolutionary arc, leading eventually to the realization of unity.

The veil of illusion resembles the moment before dawn when the world of familiar things is seen through the fogs and the streamers of mist which veil the world form and also veil the rising sun. Then we have that halftime, that mysterious and vague period when the real is hidden by the unreal; then we have that weird and distorted condition when forms are not seen as they truly are but lose their shape and color and perspective. True vision is then impossible. The astral stage and the vast cycle of time in which the great illusion holds sway can therefore be judged, from the above symbolic approach, to be but temporary and transient. It is not the stage of a definitely divine manifestation; it is not the stage of pure undimmed awareness; it is not the stage of the perfected work. It is that period of time wherein the half-Gods walk; it is the time wherein truth is only dimly sensed, the vision only vaguely and occasionally seen; it is the stage of the half-realized Plan, and when one works on partial knowledge, difficulty and mistakes are bound to supervene. It is also the stage of distortion and of constant mutability; whilst it is in evidence we have the apparently ceaseless pulling hither and thither by forces, working blindly and seemingly without [614] purpose. As far as humanity is concerned, it is the time wherein man is enveloped in mist and fog, and lost in the miasmas arising out of the ground (symbol of the foundational nature of the animal kingdom). Yet at times this stage is seen to be unreal as the dawning light of the spiritual consciousness pierces through the surrounding darkness. It is the interlude between the dominance of the animal consciousness and that of the spiritual, and this interlude of astral illusion is only known in the human family. There is no astral plane except in the consciousness of the fourth kingdom in nature, for man is "under illusion" in a sense different to the conscious awareness of any other  kingdom - subhuman or superhuman.

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