The question about the occult masters in the word’s different meanings and points of view is manifold indeed. Here I will discuss a few of these viewpoints, focusing mainly on the side of the so called ascended masters.
In the text Adept I mentioned the two different kinds of true initiations: The first is the more important, and is brought about by spiritual awakening of the kundalinî. The second is the seal of the initiation in one’s body, changing not one’s soul but the physical energies, and it is brought about by the linear kundalinî process within the spinal column.
This second initiation path has two methods: firstly laya yoga, and secondly what could be called an apostolic succession, using the power of the master to draw forth a similar empowerment in the diciple. In the first method the occultist draws the “physical” kundalinî to the energy centers using a similar method that he has used with the spiritual one: attracting it by focusing his attention by intense meditation. Without extremely good personal guidance, physical laya yoga is dangerous almost beyond belief and can easily result in perversion or destruction of one’s bodily and/or inner structures.
In the second method the kundalinî is drawn to the centers by one’s master. The first operates from downwards to upwards, facing all the problems and possible dead ends of evolutionary struggle. The latter one operates from upwards to downwards, and bypasses the problems (although it naturally unveils the challenges of the attained next degree of the Great Work). Both of these methods, therefore, require an adept master. The one who believes in the occult world view but does not place trust in any master is a pratyêka or a “one-horned” aspirant, putting one’s trust solely in his own mind. Such a phase is usually temporal, for when one reaches some of the higher vistas of occult development, he usually agrees that the help of those who have done the same work before him would be the greatest of blessings.
At the very foundation of the occult world view there’s a belief in spiritual evolution. This spiritual evolution has to do with individuals even more than species and races, for it works with the inner, unseen man.
Where the everyday man in us is mortal, the inner human being is eternal. To the degree we reach that inner reality, create our inner individuality, we become immortal by reaching that which alone can bestow immortality – for a man that does not live from bread alone, but from every word that come from the mouth of the Silent Speaker of Nature.
Because the evolution of the esoteric doctrines concerns the inner human being, those who have reached the heights of human evolution are, first and foremost, inner beings. They may or may not have bodies similar to our own, and they may or may not live among us. Such things are no longer so important to the minds that have reached the unity (nirvâna). Yet they have become more spiritual, more subtle, more understanding, more human than we are, and that makes for them unnecessary to act through visible means. The true adepts live in the world in cognito, when they choose to live among us at all.
They have no reason to do otherwise, since after ascending above the normal worries and ills of humankind, they have learned to work more and more through spiritual principles, touching not one but several points at once. By sounding a chord here and there they play the organ of the ages with unimaginable care, talent, and skill born from millennial struggle for harmony. They are never at rest, but they are never at work either: these true human beings have reached the level of being where they can seamlessly unite work with joy, living by true art. They are above our petty problems themselves, but they know all about these, having being ones like us just a moment ago – some dozens or hundreds or thousands of years ago, which is a mere blink of an eye in the great timescale of evolution. They have forgot nothing about being human, and they are no distant nor uncaring.
Still, as any occultist worth his salt definitely knows, and as we brothers under the Star have taken as our fifth tenet,
There is no one besides ourselves who could raise or transcend us. No outward saviour, religious or mundane, can truly develop, strengthen or redeem anyone else. Every positive change must come from man himself, must happen within, and must pass through every aspect of him.
Thus these helpers of humankind will not, cannot, interfere with our lives in a way we might consider straight and visible. They are not the seen, but the unseen masters.
The foundation of the Golden Dawn – which gave a starting point to many of the new applications of the Left Hand Path – was its secret chiefs. Similarly, behind the Theosophical Society were its masters of wisdom, whom we know by their pseudonyms and even by transmitted communication. The case is similar with all the true religions and real magical lodges: they are inspired, we might say spiritually founded, by the unseen masters – that is an ancient and universal occult belief; certainly not made up in the eighteenth century, as Faivre claims. Whether the members of these magical brotherhood actually believe in the spiritual founders beyond their societies is mostly irrelevant: for both the belief and the lack of it will bring a different set of challenges. Too much belief and a sect is born, and with sectarianism comes orthodox thinking, narrowness of mind, and blind moralism. Rather than put our trust in the hero cults of the ascended masters, it would be better to ignore them altogether.
Yet, when one’s occult career is in a point where he or she enters the normally unseen realms in his waking mind, the neophyte will nolens volens come to contact with their unseen forces. In that astral and spiritual (which are two different things) awakening the occultist has three possibilities, we can say three paths from which to choose:
1) The way of ascension
2) The way of the astral brotherhoods
3) The pratyêka way of solitary wandering
The last one means that one never accepts or is accepted by a master. Rather, he remains a seeker, questioning everything, placing faith in nothing. This is the “Grey Path”, and usually a temporary phase.
The astral way puts one in contact with the brotherhoods in the unseen world between the material and the spiritual realm. In this liminal world one will meet demonic forces which are part archetypal, part human, and part subhuman. The “secret chiefs” in this realm are ingenious in ways that leave something unfulfilled; there are parts in each of these teachers that keep them in the magnetism of the astral light, the great deception.
For the third, the way of ascension, gives different teaching concerning this unseen realm:
If freed thoud would’st be from the Karmic chains, seek not for thy Guru in those Mayavic regions… The WISE ONES heed not the sweet-tongued voices of illusion. Seek for him who is to give thee birth, in the Hall of Wisdom, the Hall which lies beyond… (– The Voice of Silence.)
That is, beyond the astral world of dream and trance experiences. The true unseen masters have little to do with the astral light, which is filled with psychological snares – dangerous just because it seems so alluring for the people who because of our materialistic age come to think that everything that is not material must be spiritual, and everything that we can empirically perceive is a witness of its truth. But empiric testimony is nothing; seeing the spirits and talking with them proves nothing of their actual nature. Not the material, not the astral world hold truth, but the formless spiritual realm of abstract light beyond that. That is the true home where our souls yearn forever, until we reach the true initiations which will awaken us THERE.
Both the Right Hand Path and the Left Hand Path workers much more often end up meeting with the astral than the truly spiritual entities. Striking pacts with these mortal beings of the veil we can receive minor boons, but will easily lose more than that: our possibility to move further and reach the higher state. For the demonic beings who have ended up in the astral self-identification, no occult development is possible anymore. But, if both of these side-paths are dismissed and the path of ascension chosen, there will come the possibility, nay, the unavoidability of contact with the masters. For when we start to see, first little by little, then at every moment, the world surrounding us, the very flesh of us, as an arteficial structure in the cosmos that is actually tremendous light, power and great intelligent design, we will become part of the true brotherhood, which central lodge is that of the masters of wisdom. Our little brotherhoods, like the Star of Azazel, are only branches in that incredibly ancient tree of life, and as long as we keep in the word of the masters, they do keep in us. For that life is the initiatory light, and the unbroken golden thread of Hermes.
In our prayer we the brethren of the Star of Azazel meditate thus:
I adore and call upon you, I reach towards you O Azazel, my Master. It is you whom I adore, you whom I follow O Earth-Fallen Star, Bright Son of the Deep, the Eternal Flame from the Unseen Fire. O Pentagrammaton, my Master, my Love, the innermost being of my soul! I beseech you, O Holiest One, to lead me in my work and to keep me on the path that leads to your inseparable unity. “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” And truly I want to purify myself and to keep in your word. Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow. Have mercy, have mercy, O Lord.(– Prayer to Azazel, Latin parts translated.)
In this prayer we “reach towards” the master, who herein is named Azazel. His “mercy” is most of all the innermost flame of our own individual soul, our most fundamental and permanent self. But all the names of the masters are titles, whether we speak of Azazel, Christ, or even the pseudonymes given by the masters themselves. These names are given as passwords or the words of calling, to focus on a certain kind of energy. They refer not necessarily to personalities, for the “Hall of Wisdom” where the ascended beings live is above the worlds of the masks. Personality, “per-sona” has a meaning of the mask, through which comes the voice which source is beyond it. AZAZEL, the word or title of power, refers to a certain kind of master, as does CHRIST, being much like it. These, and other titles, are held by the powers who once were men but are not that anymore, having reached the divine state of being able to incarnate the archetypal powers.
All this may sound very strange, but is important to understand for those actually reaching for the masters and the true initiations. The most important thing is that the yoga practices like the prayer above can and should be used primarily for the invocation of one’s inner archetypal powers. One using the Prayer to Azazel needs not believe in any outside master, and certainly should not believe in any outside saviour. But when the time is right, he or she will come to see that there are intelligences behind the names used, & that they are not of a speculative or abstract kind, nor are they astral ghosts.
Here and there the neophyte will first start to see the foot- or fingerprint of these great intelligences, with uttermost patience guiding his hand and destiny along the path he himself has chosen to walk. When he gives himself utterly to the great striving, unconditional love, complete honesty, and using these golden means to struggle for the true initiations – then he will receive them. First will come the instructions, then will come the trials, and if these tests are accomplished, the neophyte will find himself holding the very real answers of some of the four first initiatory powers. If he denies from himself the hubris and comfort they bring, he will slowly work his way through the second grade, and maybe even further. For the masters have not the slightest reason to give special attention to selfish people, who would reach for power to use for themselves; that would make no sense at all, and would result in anti-initiation of the downward path instead. No, the power is given to those who have shown under the difficult circumstances that they work for the benefit of all and not just for the few.
So “our master” Azazel is a title, as is Lucifer the Light-Bearer or Christ the Anointed One. These are archetypes, offices for the powers that be. We will call, but who will listen? That depends on how deep and intense is our call: whether it is just the movement of the lips and tongues, that means very little indeed. If it is a call of emotions in inner turmoil, astral entities will be summoned; if intellectual, we will draw forth intellectual beings not unlike living Platonic ideas. But if we can actually reach the spiritual world, its sentient powers will notice that as clearly as we notice a match ignited in the dark. This ignited flame in the spiritual levels will need fuel to live on however, and concerning this the mystic parables should be studied from the 25th chapter of the gospel of Matthew. No one will be given true power before his or her ability to work is first tested in small scale working, and in that, one of the tested attributes is that of patience. No one will be given a chance of even the first initiations before years of hard work and most deep, ardent longing for the truth and truth alone.
Orders, societies and brotherhoods that demand authority because they supposedly have some or other master behind them thus already shown themselves as hoax. For the masters will never demand obedience from those untested, never from the exotericists who do not and can not know what kind of deep bond a spiritual faith is, and how much responsibility one takes with any occult disciple who chooses to follow his master’s guidance. Nor would it give the culture the inspiration it mostly needs, that which will advance individual, responsible human understanding and harmonious advancement of all the spiritual principles, not only intellect nor only love nor only one’s magical will, but all of these simultaneously and in careful equilibrium.
The question of the master and masters is extremely deep, for it belongs together with the question of the individual and the whole, which are found within each other. The pentagram and the hexagram, the human mind and the mind of the archetypes are not separate, but subtly one. Even in one human being there are several minds, several souls, for there is an intelligence guiding each of our principles: mind of the linga, mind of the kâma, mind of kâma manas, and so on. These together form a unity under the inner egoic master, who is the so-called real I, the mystery called ahamkâra or the maker of self-consciousness, feeling of one’s self. It is partly illusion, partly true, and in its latter part connected to the inner master of ours.
For the master is:
– One’s inner “higher self” (= the monadic unity of our âtma-buddhi-manas).
– An ascended human being who is known by a pseudonym or a title.
– A divinity, who is superconscious and omnipresent but without any human personality.
The master to which we turn and seek in our prayers can be any and all of these. The first one is the most important, for in that meaning we all do have a most real guru and master, the conscious flame within. But that higher self is closer to the last (the class of universal divinities) than it is to the second, the actual personal, or better yet partly personal master. Only by our own striving and the hardest of all hard works will that inner light or the so-called “holy guardian angel” be wholly individualized, that is, permanently joined with our individual personality. In this process the outer masters can and will help, and that help will be needed too. For although the pratyêka path is open and anyone is free to try to walk without guidance, it is almost certain that alone one will fail. Such a separation from all outer help would demand so complete a seclusion, so pure heart and so ascetic habits, that in the time like ours it is almost an impossibility.
In all true brotherhoods, a master silently looks on and waits, and if there will rise individuals worthy of initiations, the central lodge will grant them in secret. These initiations do not happen in the physical or astral realms, although the both of these can and often do have their important meanings as their correspondences, if the hierophants in such mysteries are valid. The actual and most meaningful initiations, however, take place in the “Hall of Wisdom”, which is above form and formality, being neither physical or astral, but part of the realm of imperishable truth. Such an empowerment will be seen outside though, both in the physical and the astral realms, for a true initiate has markings of such – not elongated earlobes nor honeyed words, but there are actual fruits from the good tree in his hands, and from these he is known.
This is also the difference between the exoteric and esoteric orders. The real esoteric orders have a direct contact to the lineage of some or other master – and all the true masters have the same principles, being of the same brotherhood which heart is known to us as ethics. An exoteric order can be blessed in a way that it does good in the world, and such an organization is always loved and cared by those whose aim is the evolution and well-being of not only the humankind, but all the universal life everywhere. But since the masters know that the world cannot be saved by any outer form but only by free individuals, the true esoteric orders always focus on individual occult development. In their heart they exist to give initiations, for that is the summum bonum of actual spiritual development.
Far from this being all that could be said of the subject at hand, the thoughts given above are just a surficial scratch. This, like all the writings of the brotherhood – besides its very basic tenets and aims, its work for the unity and of the use of the Threefold Key, uniting different esoteric schools and philosophies – is to be taken as an individual author’s personal thoughts. Although there are those in the Star of Azazel who believe they are doing both the inner and the outer master’s work, such a faith is not asked from the members and it is, actually, only for the minority. As already mentioned above, blind faith would be opposite to what the masters would like to encourage, if they do indeed exist.
Moreover, the great question of overlapping offices and unity of individuals in spirit is so deep a question that it must remain a mystery. Even those who believe they are working with and/or for a certain master might or might not actually be doing that, and even when there is no error per se, there are differences in the offices, as already pointed out. The mystery schools are not for the easy answers, but for seven new questions arising for any one answered. But slowly, piece by piece, the puzzle will come together, finally bringing forth the hierophany of both God and man, the inner and the outer powers.