Although it's not urgent anymore, I'd actually edited a lot of the first chapter before your latest post, I've just been unable to post it until recently. It makes little sense for it to just sit on my computer.
ADEPT: CHAPTER ONE
Adept, or "the achieved one"*, is a name for the initiated, that is, for persons having attained a spiritual and overall awareness of practical occultism and a full rebirth. This word has been used in both exclusive and broader senses with popular parties having brought its meaning to just another synonym for neophyte; a person whose spiritualistic and holistic world-view can even nowadays be a very strange one, but who, despite his formal knowledge, has not necessarily been initiated even to the first degrees of true occultism. Initiation is something that radically transforms the individual as a spiritual and ethical being.
In theosophy the term “adept” has been refined to mean the ones who have taken the so called fifth initiation, that is, the "fully initiated" ones whose conduct is hardly necessary to change. But what exactly is the meaning of these five initiations? Pekka Ervast[*2] named them as follows:
I Initiation of Mercury
II Initiation of Venus
III Initiation of Earth
IV Initiation of Mars
V Initiation of Jupiter
After these ones follow other degrees, but herein it will be enough to focus on these five, the taking of which would already signify an immense increase of power and understanding, but also responsibility.
As Ervast demonstrates, the Mars-initiation is the border line between "the old covenant" and "the new covenant".[*3] The initiatory systems of the old world were very traditionally aware and precisely organized, whereas in today's world individuality plays a major part. In previous times occultism was generally well known – not as a doctrinal whole, but as an idea – with each country hosting its more or less public mystery schools, which have since been closed. In these schools rigorous self-constraint and external control of the mind were demanded from the students. As a general rule the neophyte had to be able to concentrate his will on the traditional forms before he could attain its inner core.
What, then, was this core? In the septanary system[*4] – the system pertaining to the manifested world – the middle point is the fourth. This corresponds to the already mentioned Mars-initiation, which is therefore, in a way, the archetype of the concept of initiation: it seems to sum up the inner idea of the whole principle of initiation - sacrifice. But what is true sacrifice? What is altruism? What is the relationship between the Ego and the otherness? The one who knows the answer to these questions in his everyday life and in his own thinking and his feelings – he who knows the answer in his soul – he has taken the fourth initiation.[*5]
Earlier, the road travelled to this point was long, even in terms of duration, because the psychological crisis and the widening unfoldings resulting from them were undertaken in order from the first to the last while under supervision by an external teacher of each individual student. In the older world, what has now become a more symbolic process pertaining to the inner aspects of the mind was undertaken in a literal fashion; the search for truth and teacher by travel, seeking admission into the temple, enduring tribulations, and then progressing degree by degree in the secret inner circle. This was the system of the old covenant, which changed when the sun entered the sign of Pisces two millennia ago, thereby making a new type of energy transmission possible for humanity.
First a right sort of archetype had to be prepared: in cosmic terms a power or a conduct for that power; in human terms the kind of initiate who was able to express a new type of system that was wider than before. This was actualized by that great man whom the Christian church considers "the one son of God" and "the redeemer of the sins of humanity"; justified on the one hand, but on the other, due to its form of presentation based on faith and restriction, in a grievously erroneous way in practice. Through the birth of this new power a new way was made possible besides the older. Because of this there now exists two occult paths: first there is the old system, which is based on the realization of the external idea; and then there is the new system, which is both easier and harder, for it begins, like Platonic metaphysics, from above, striving to perceive the ultimate truth directly. In the latter, the human personality has more breathing space and the importance of tradition is less stressed.
The person who takes the fifth initiation and becomes an adept - that is, the pure magician whose being doesn't restrict the immediate manifestation of his will and love and consciousness in the outer nature, but whose actualized will is repeated by the echo of nature herself in a pure, obedient and immediate way - needs to have passed through the four previous initiations in order to realize the fifth one. How these four initiations may be taken depends on weather the old or the new way is followed. At this juncture it is important to keep in mind that "the degrees of initiation" are merely an attempt to succinctly describe a reality so very profound and forceful that it cannot be constrained in any form of narrow mould. However, this doesn't mean that students of the same initiatory degree could receive conflicting results from their initiatory processes, but instead that the realizations can be taken in different aspects, depending on the order in which they are passed through. So nowadays it isn't unheard of that the student doesn't proceed in a ritualistic order from the first initiation to the second, and from the second initiation to the third &c.; rather, the way to the fourth initiation may be travelled by different individuals in widely different manners.
Until we have completely understood the first four initiations we cannot turn our gaze towards the fifth initiation, for it represents the quintessence, the pure essential existence of the Great Nature, which we cannot grasp if we haven't understood its living aspects - the four elements represented by first four initiations. The "elements" are literally foundations, the basic principles, the fundamentals that have to be mastered. The road can be travelled in many ways, but the fifth degree of pure magic is unattainable for us before the four foundations have first been realized.[*6]
Because such freedom of choice exists on the initiatory road, it follows that there are in fact "higher" initiates who have less initiations than the initiates of the "lower" degrees. The student of the old world may have taken all three initiations of the old covenant, but not the fourth one, when the student of the new world may have taken only the fourth initiation, which is a higher one than the previous three initiations. Thus the last have indeed become the first and the first have become the last. But the travellers of both ways share a common goal which they must achieve in different ways.
All this is presented here so that we can understand how the one common truth manifests in seemingly very diverse ways of progression for different types of men & women.
[*1 From Latin adeptio, to attain. Cf. Sanskrit yoga, which literally means joining. The object for these both is clearly the numinous.]
[*2 In his book Tähtikoulut, "The Star-Schools". Cf. also Bailey's "Initiations, Human and Solar".]
[*3 Also as a line between the preparatory and the actual Path.]
[*4 Of which manifestations are the seven notes of the gamut, seven primary colours, &c.]
[*5 Hasty conclusions should not be drawn from this. The true initiate has one's initiatory knowledge as absolute and not just cognitive, let alone formal theoretical knowledge. There are plenty of intelligent people on the world but true initiates, even of the first degrees, are few.]
[*6 The use of magic before the lofty grade of the true adept is not impossible at all, but to be seen as an exception – a kind of practice – always remaining as subconscious in one or other part of its aspects and therefore often dangerous and potentially regressive. Practical magic is humanity's natural heritage and crowning, which one can perfectly attain only at the mentioned period.]
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