MEDITATION AND INITIATION
Nov 17, 2004 04:17 AM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
Nov 17 2004
NOVEMBER 17TH 2004
Greetings to all on this anniversary day.
129 years ago in the city of New York the THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY was launched.
These words I believe are written for all of us and may profit all.
INITIATION IN THE BHAGAVAD GITA
Recognition of The Identity of all Spiritual Beings, and
And by "spiritual beings" is meant all life above the inorganic, for man is
not admitted to be material.
There is only one life, one consciousness. It masquerades under all the
different forms of sentient beings, and those varying forms with their
intelligences mirror a portion of the One Life, thus producing in each a
false idea of egoism.
A continuance of belief in that false ego produces a continuance of
ignorance, thus delaying salvation.
RECOGNIZING THE PATH
The beginning of the effort to dissipate this false belief is the beginning
of the Path; the total dissipation of it is the perfection of yoga, or union
The entry upon that Path cannot be made until resignation is consummated;
for, as the Upanishad and the Bhagavad-Gita say:
"All this, whatsoever moves on earth, is to be surrendered to the Lord— the
Self. When thou hast surrendered all this; then thou mayest enjoy."
If this be true, then how necessary to consider philosophy so as to be able
to cut off the false belief.
And how useless to pursue occultism merely for your own benefit.
You may know all about currents and polarities, about any and every
phenomenon possible in the astral world, but with the death of your body it
is lost, leaving to you only the amount of real spiritual advance you happen
to have made. But once resign and all is possible. This will not ruin your
life nor destroy any proper ideals; poor and petty ideals had better be at
once lost. It may seem that all ideals are gone, but that will be only the
first effect of taking this step.
We must be ready to say at any moment under whatever circumstances, whether
expected or unexpected:
"It is just what I in fact desired."
For only those ideals can be dissipated which rest upon a lower basis than
the highest aim, or which are not in accord with nature's (God's) law. And
as our aim ought to be to reach the supreme condition and to help all other
sentient beings to do so also, we must cultivate complete resignation to the
Law, the expression and operation of which is seen in the circumstances of
life and the ebb and flow of our inner being.
All that can be gotten out of wealth, or beauty, or art, or pleasure, are
merely pools of water found along our path as it wanders through the desert
of life. If we are not seeking them their appearance gives us intense
pleasure, and we are thus able to use them for our good and that of others
just so long as the Law leaves them to us; but when that superior power
removes them, we must say: "It is just what I in fact desired." Any other
course is blindness.
All the passing shows of life, whether fraught with disaster or full of fame
and glory, are teachers; he who neglects them, neglects opportunities which
seldom the gods repeat. And the only way to learn from them is through the
heart's resignation; for when we become in heart completely poor, we at once
are the treasurers and disbursers of enormous riches. Krishna then insists
on the scrupulous performance of natural duty. (1)
[(1) Some students, as well as critics, have said that theosophy teaches a
running away from family and from the world, and that neither knowledge nor
salvation can be gained without a ridiculous asceticism which would upset
the natural order.
This is wrong. And when it is believed to be a fact— now asserted be me in
confidence of support from all real Theosophists— that the blessed Masters
who ordered the founding of are Society constantly read and inculcate the
Bhagavad-Gita's philosophy, we perceive that such assertions against the
Society's aims are incorrect.]
"And considering thine own duty as a Kshatriya, thou art not right to waver.
For there is nothing better for a Kshatriya than lawful war. "
In order to see more clearly the occasion for his insistence upon
performance of duty, we must remember that at the opening of the battle
Arjuna "threw down his bow and arrows."
This, in India, meant that he then resolved to desert the circumstances in
which karma had placed him and to become an ascetic, or, as has been
frequently proposed by Western students, he wished to get away from a state
of society which offered apparent obstruction to spiritual culture. But
Krishna refers him to his birth in the Kshatriya— or warrior— caste, and to
the natural duty of a Kshatriya, which is war.
The natural caste of Arjuna might have been represented as that of merchant,
but wisely it was not, for this is the book of action, and only a warrior
fitly typifies action (1); [(1) My opinion is that the Kshatriya caste is
the greatest. The Brahmins, it is true, have always had more veneration paid
them as being spiritual teachers and thus representing the head of Brahma;
but in some of the Aryan sacrifices there is an occasion when the Kshatriya
ranks the Brahmin.
The latter are more the conservators of true doctrine; but when the time
comes for the "gods to descend in order to establish a new harmony on
earth," they always begin with a warrior. Osiris who educated and solidified
the Egyptians was a warrior, and the mysterious Melchizedek, who blessed
Abraham, was prophet, priest, and king, that is — warrior.
Then, too, the warrior caste could learn and speak the Vedas as well as
engage in war, whereas the Brahmin's only duty was that of a teacher and not
fighter. The Kshatriya therefore stands in the position of mediator between
the action of the body of Brahma and the calm inaction of Brahma's head.]
So his natural duty will stand for whatever be that of any man.
We are not to shirk our karma; by abhorring it we only make new karma. Our
only true course is to "let the motive for action be in the action itself,
never in its reward; not to be incited to action by the hope of the result,
nor yet indulge a propensity to inertness." This advice and the direction to
see the one Spirit in all things and all things in It ( ch. xiii) express
the gist of the Bhagavad-Gita's teaching as to the proper attitude to be
assumed by those striving after salvation.
In verse 40 [Chapter 2] Krishna alludes to this system as being one of
"In this no initiation is lost, nor are there any evil consequences, and
even a little of this practice saves from great danger; there is no
destruction of nor detriment to one's efforts. "
Although not proclaimed in the newspapers nor advertised here and there
through Secretaries, Delegates, and "Doors," this is the mother and the head
of all systems of initiation. It is the progenitor of the mystic
Rosicrucians, who have adopted the lotus and changed it into a rose (1),
[ (1) The probability is that the Rosicrucian "rose" was altered from the
lotus because the latter flower was not understood in Europe, whereas the
rose was; and the rose is the nearest to the lotus, taken all in all. In
Japan the lotus in the heart is adhered to; they say that by directing
attention to the heart, it is found to burst open into a lotus of eight
petals, in each of which resides one power, while in the center sits the
lord of all.]
And all the other hundreds of initiating occult societies are merely faint
and incomplete copies of this real one; but, unlike those, it has never
It is secret, because, founded in nature and having only real Hierophants at
the head, its privacy cannot be invaded without the real key. And that key,
in each degree, is the aspirant himself.
Until that aspirant has become in fact the sign and the key, he cannot enter
the degree above him. As a whole then, and in each degree, it is
Thus including all other systems, it is the most difficult of all; but as at
some time, in this life or in a succeeding age, we must perforce enter this
Lodge, the attempt at entry might as well be made at once.
A system of initiation is spoken of which is the mother of all others, and
that all the rest are mere exoteric copies or perversions of the real. In
order that the idea intended to be expressed may be made clear, it is to be
stated that the system is not confined to India, but at the same time it is
true that the Western world has up to this time been so deeply engaged in
the pursuit of mere money and external enjoyment that no body of Hierophants
has taken up its actual residence in Europe or America as yet.
There is very little force in the objection that, if those Adepts have such
powers as have been ascribed to them, they could very easily have a
residence here and overcome all the influences of the place. If it were in
the least necessary that they should be here, no doubt can there be that
they would come.
But as all of the work required to be done, all that could possibly be
accomplished, is to be achieved by the messengers sent out into each country
who, so to say, prepare the ground, with the assistance of the Adepts, for
others who follow them, there would be a waste of energy if the Hierophants
appeared in person.
Nor are those messengers dismayed by the critical attitude of those persons
who, wanting a sign, continually deny that the help for the workers is
afforded because the givers of it cannot be seen; and it can also be
admitted that even the workers themselves are not continually in receipt of
instruction or telegrams showing how and where to work.
They are men and women who possess a faith that carries them through a long
course of effort without a glimpse of those who have sent them. Yet at the
same time some of them now and then see very plain evidence of the fact that
they are constantly assisted.
"That we all labor together transmitting the same charge and succession,
We few equals indifferent of lands, indifferent of times,
We, enclosers of all continents, all castes, allowers of all theologies,
Compassionaters, perceivers, rapport of men,
We walk silent among disputes and assertions, but reject not the disputers:
nor anything that is asserted,
We hear the bawling and din, we are reach'd at by divisions, jealousies,
recriminations on every side,
They close peremptorily upon us to surround us, my comrade,
Yet we walk unpheld, free, the whole earth over, journeying up and down till
we make our ineffaceable mark upon time and the diverse eras,
Till we saturate time and eras, that the men and women of races, ages to
come, may prove brethren and lovers as we are."
[Walt Whitman - The World's Work ]
So all this preparation is similar to that of the primeval forest by the
early settlers in America; it is as yet hardly a tilling of the soil, but
rather a clearing off of trees and weeds. This is not because they are
unable to do more, but because the weeds and trees are there requiring to be
removed before the Elder Ones can usefully push on in person the further
"When the materials are all prepared and ready the architects shall
EVOLUTION IS UNIVERSAL INITIATION
All human beings are working through this system of initiation, and for that
reason it includes all the exoteric societies.
Very often the Masters in this have appeared in those when they saw an
opportunity for sowing the seed, which, although for a time to be enclosed
in the shell of formalism, was to be preserved for future use; just as the
Egyptian mummy held in its hand for centuries the germ that blossomed and
bore fruit in our day.
And since man in all his struggles must be helped, they have assisted in
political changes where a hope was held out for the rise of a beneficent
era. (1) [(1) It has been asserted by some theosophical writer that
these adepts were concerned in the formation of the American Republic, and
either were here in person or sent messengers.]
The great mass of men are not with their own knowledge engaged in the work
of this powerful and impregnable Lodge, but they will knowingly engage
therein at some point in the course of their long evolution.
And yet at every hour of each day these Masters are willing and anxious to
meet those who are clear-eyed enough to see their true destiny, and
noble-hearted so as to work for "the great orphan, humanity."
THE PATH OF OCCULTISM
Then, further, none of us, and especially those who have heard of the Path
or of Occultism or of the Masters, can say with confidence that he is not
already one who has passed through some initiations with knowledge of them.
We may be already initiated into some higher degree than our present
attainments would suggest, and are undergoing a new trial unknown to
It is better to consider that we are, being sure to eliminate all pride of
that unknown advance we have made. Having so concluded, we know that this
long life is in itself another initiation, wherein we succeed or fail just
as we learn the lesson of life.
Some, I know, will not hasten to adopt this view, for they desire the Law to
work in the manner appointed by them; they wish to have a sign or a password
or a parchment or some wonderful test propounded, to which they shall be
ready to submit at a certain time and place.
But this is not the manner of it, and all true students know that. Surely if
the little circumstances of life are not understood, if they have yet power
to light the torch of anger or blow up the smoldering fire of lust, no set
time or tournament will be offered for you by the Masters of this Lodge.
Those set times and larger tests are given and have in their place to be
overcome, but they belong to the day when you have raised the arch of
attainment all perfect but the keystone— that is found or lost in the
THE LODGE AND THE MASTERS
Reaching to the actual door of this Lodge is the Path that I spoke of in my
last, and leading to that Path are many roads. We might as well attempt to
enter the Path in this incarnation as to wait for succeeding lives.
There is great encouragement in Krishna's words to Arjuna in the second
"In this system there is no destruction of or detriment to one's efforts;
even a very small portion of this duty delivereth a man from great fear."
This refers to the law of karma.
Every point of progress gained is never in reality lost.
Even did we die at a time when our lives were not stainless, the real level
of our development would not be lowered, for upon reassuming a mortal body
in some after life on this earth we take up the thread just where we dropped
Later, Krishna says that we come in contact with the knowledge which
belonged to us in our former body, and from that time we struggle more
diligently toward perfection.
Patanjali also says the same thing, and all the Aryan sacred books concur in
the opinion. (1) [(1) Patanjali's Yoga Aphorisms, Book 2; and
Vishnu-Smriti, chap. xcvii, v. 11. ]
The thoughts and aspirations of our life form a mass of force that operates
instantly upon our acquirement of a body that furnishes the corresponding
instrument, or upon our so altering our mental state as to give it
opportunity for action.
The objection that this would be a suspension of energy is not tenable,
since such a thing is well known in the physical world, even if called by
some other name. We are not obliged to rest on that objection, as it by no
means follows that the energy is suspended; it has its operation in other
The encouragement given by Krishna leads us to consider what method is
offered for entering upon the Path. We find it to be a right knowledge of
the spirit. This right knowledge is found in the second chapter.
As by all illuminated sages, the ultimate truth is first declared by the
Blessed Lord as we have seen, and in the very chapter wherein right action
is insisted upon as the way to liberation. He then, proceeding to explain
himself further, points out errors common to humanity, and certain false
views that prevailed in India then, as they do now.
Verse 41 [Ch. 2] :— "In this system there is only one single object of a
steady, constant nature, O son of Kuru. Those who do not persevere, and
whose principles are indefinite, have objects with many ramifications and
In the men thus described, desires for worldly or intellectual acquisitions
prevail and, desires being infinite as also capable of producing endless
modifications of desire, there is no concentration possible.
This also has an application to the methods of our present scientific
schools, which indulge in an eternal seeking for so-called facts before
general principles are admitted. One single branch of investigation with
them has endless ramifications that no human being could compass in a
"Not disposed to meditation and perseverance is the intention of those who
are devoted to enjoyments and dominion, and whose minds are seduced by that
flowery sentence which is proclaimed by the unwise, who delight in texts
from the Vedas, O son of Pritha, and say, "There is nothing else than that,"
being covetous-minded and considering heaven as the very highest good;
offering rebirth as the reward of actions, and enjoining many special
ceremonies for the sake of obtaining pleasures and dominion, and preferring
the transient enjoyment of heaven to eternal absorption."
This is better understood when some of the ideas held in India regarding
sacrifices and ceremonies are known.
In the Occident sacrifices have long gone out of use, as there appeared to
be no reason for them. And yet it must seem strange to the reflective mind
that Christian nations should claim redemption through the Jews whose
prophet enjoined sacrifices, and when Jesus himself said that not one jot or
tittle of the law should pass away.
In the place of the sacrifices of the East, the West has adopted a mere
theory to be embraced, together with an uncertain moral code to be followed,
with a result which is the same as that claimed by the Hindus— save only in
one respect. That difference lies in the doctrine of reincarnation.
The Christian looks for an eternal reward in heaven and knows nothing of
reincarnation on earth, while the Hindu relies upon pleasure to be had in
heaven— called Svarga— and a continuation of it upon earth by reason ofa
They have special ceremonies, certain sorts of sacrifices, penances,
prayers, and actions, the result of which is a rebirth on earth in a royal
family, or with great riches, or in any other sort of pleasant
circumstances; and also a sure admittance to heaven. Some ceremonies procure
entrance into a delightful state after death which will last for
incalculable periods of time.
Now no one of these sorts of procedure leads us to the ultimate, but all are
causes of karma and of delusion: therefore Krishna did not approve them to
Arjuna. And his warning is useful to theosophists who are students or wish
to become such.
With them the false view warned against by Krishna has altered itself into a
craving for phenomena, or to perform some action that shall bring them the
favor of Mahatmas, or a morbid fear of making karma, or else an equally
accentuated desire to acquire good karma.
They should abandon those attitudes and carefully study the following
verses, trying to incorporate their true meaning into their very being.
"The subject of the three Vedas is the assemblage of the three qualities. O
Arjuna! be thou free from these three qualities, from the ordinary influence
of the natural opposites, reposing on eternal truth, free from worldly
anxieties, self-possessed* * *
Let, then, the motive for action be in the action itself, never in its
event. Be not one whose motive for action is the hope of reward.
Let not thy life be spent in inaction. Depend upon concentration, perform
thy duty, abandon all thought of the consequence, and make the event equal
to thee, whether it terminate in good or evil; for such an equanimity is
called Yoga (union with God). By far inferior to union with wisdom is
Seek an asylum, then, in wisdom alone; for the miserable and unhappy are so
on account of the event of things. Men who are endued with true wisdom
dismiss, by means of this concentration, alike successful and unsuccessful
results. Study then to obtain this concentration of thy understanding, for
such concentration is a precious art.
Wise men, who have abandoned all thought of the fruit which is produced from
their actions, are freed from the chains of birth in this world, and go to
the regions of eternal happiness.
When thy reason shall get the better of the gloomy weakness of thy heart,
then shalt thou have obtained all knowledge which has been or is to be
taught. When thy understanding, by study brought to maturity, shall be fixed
immovably in contemplation, then shall it obtain true wisdom. "
The first portion of this paper was designedly enlarged in order to precede
the above. The last quoted verses contain the essence of what is called
Karma-yoga, or, as it might be translated, concentration and contemplation
while engaged in action.
It is difficult, just as it is difficult to enter upon the Path, and if we
desire to tread that aright we must know what we should do as true
Krishna seems to me to here settle the dispute as to whether faith or works
will save us. Mere faith will not do it, because in every act of faith there
is some action. And it would appear to be impossible to acquire true faith
without at once turning it into that sort of action which our faith shows us
must be done, as it were, in evidence; yet action, pure and simple, will not
be a cause of liberation, inasmuch as action, or karma, will produce new
We must therefore seek for concentration in order that we may be able to do
those actions which the All-Wise presents to us to be done, remaining the
We have nothing to do with the results; they will come of themselves, and
are beyond us; they are already done so far as we are concerned. But if we
perform either an act of faith or an action of the body, hoping for any
result— no matter what— we become to that extent attached to the
consequences, and thus bound by them.
It matters not whether those consequences be good or bad. Many will think
that it is well to have attachment to good consequences, since that has been
the received opinion. But this is unwise, because the only reason for it is
found in the idea that thereby one is somewhat better than some other
persons who are enamored of evil results and desire to see them come to
This idea produces separateness, and is opposed to that identity without the
realization of which there can be no true knowledge. We should therefore be
imitators of the Deity, who, while acting as he does in the manifestation of
universes, is at the same time free from all consequences.
To the extent that we do so we become the Deity himself, for, as we follow
the dictates of the Lord who dwells in us, we resign every act upon the
altar, leaving the consequences to him.
The attitude to be assumed, then, is that of doing every act, small and
great, trifling or important, because it is before us to do, and as a mere
carrying out by us as instruments of the will of that Deity who is ourself.
Nor should we stop to inquire whether the act is of any use to the Lord
within (1), [Isvara, the particular manifestation of Brahman in each human
as some ask. For, they say, of what possible benefit to him can be the small
hourly acts which, as soon as done, are forgotten?
It is not for us to inquire. The act that pleases that Lord is the act which
is done as presented with no attachment to its result, while the act that is
unpleasing to him is the one which we do, desiring some result therefrom.
This practice is the highest; that which some day we must and will learn to
perform. Other sorts are inculcated in other writings, but they are only
steps to lead us at last to this.
Therefore I said, Let us enter the Path as soon as we can.
[ extracts from G N PP 45-62]
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