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A Treatise on White Magic - Rule Seven - The two Paths
The two Paths

Passing from our consideration of the nature of the astral plane we will deal with its functions and the relation of the disciple to its activities. Let us remember certain things about it. First, it is pre-eminently the battleground, and on it is fought the warfare which eventuates in the final release of the imprisoned soul. It is useful to have in mind the outstanding characteristics of the three planes and the three bodies which function on them.

The physical plane is the plane of active experience in and through matter. It is the plane of externalization and, according to the condition and point of development of the inner man, so will be the outer form and its activities.

The astral plane is the plane whereon the man passes through three stages of consciousness:

  1. He gains, through his sensory apparatus, consciousness in the world of forms, and develops ability to react to those forms with wisdom and intelligence. This consciousness he shares with the animal world, though he goes far beyond them in some respects, owing to his possession of a correlating and coordinating mind.
  2. Sensitivity, or awareness of moods, emotions and feelings, desires and aspirations which have their roots within him in the principle of self-consciousness, or in the ahamkara principle, as the occultist (who loves difficult phrases) is apt to call it. This he shares in common with his fellowmen.
  3. Spiritual awareness or sensitiveness to the spiritual world, and the feeling aspect of the higher consciousness. This has its roots in the soul, presupposes the dominance of the mental nature, and is that faculty [227] which constitutes him a mystic. This awareness he shares in common with all disciples and it is the reward of the gained victories of his astral plane experience.

The mental plane comes next. In it the right use of the intellect is the outstanding achievement. This is also characterized by three stages:

  1. The stage wherein the mind is the receiver of impressions from the outer world, via the five senses and the brain. This is a negative condition, and, in it, the "modifications of the thinking principle" are brought about through the impacts of the external world, and the reactions of the astral world.
  2. The stage wherein the mind initiates its own activities, and wherein the intellect is a dominating factor. Though thrown into activity by the factors enumerated above, it is responsive also to the thought currents of the mental plane as well, and becomes exceedingly active as the result of these two contacts. Out of these a third activity supervenes wherein the reasoning principle acts upon the information gained in these two ways, sets its own streams of thoughts, and formulates its own thought forms, as well as registering those of others.
  3. The stage wherein the soul, through concentration and meditation succeeds in imposing its ideas and impressions upon the mind held "steady in the light" and so enables the mental body to respond to impressions and contacts emanating from the subjective and spiritual worlds.

Yet the battle, par excellence, is fought out in the astral body, and only reaches its most intense point and its potent fierceness when there is a good physical instrument and a well-equipped mentality. The greater the sensitivity of the astral body, the greater its reactions to [228] the physical world and to the mental condition and hence the fact emerges that disciples and the more highly evolved people in the world have a more potent astral body and work under greater emotional strain than the less highly evolved and the liberated sons of God.

Students are therefore begged to deal drastically and potently with their emotional natures, remembering that victory descends from above and cannot be worked up to from below. The soul must govern and its instrument in the warfare is the consecrated mind.

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