The Secret Guides of Humanity
There have always existed exemplary human beings embodying the highest moral, spiritual, and ethical faculties, whose profound sacrifices and uncompromising service to others have mystified and perplexed the masses. Throughout cultures, societies, and empires based upon avarice, fear, and greed, the sincere, upright, and selfless conduct of such men and women have been all the more remarkable for their originality, intelligence, and compassion. Going against the grain with brilliant and luminous character, such individuals have redirected the course of entire civilizations, even if remaining anonymous and unknown. Such persons are known as initiates.
"For throughout all recorded time there have been outstanding people on earth who spoke out with unshakable assurance about the secret of life and even witnessed their conviction with their life—initiates as they have been called. But where and from whom have these 'initiates' received their initiation? And into what were they initiated?
"Socrates for example. Consider him taking the cup of poison with divine calm, drinking it to the last drop, speaking fearlessly and objectively, quietly and pleasantly about the effect of the poison, reporting how under the influence of the poison first his feet get cold and die, how the deathly cold gradually crawls up from his feet towards his heart like a snake. He is aware that he is about to die, he takes leave of his faithful students, and closes his eyes. Such unshakable peace and calm in the face of death can only come from sure knowledge. Where did Socrates get this knowledge?
"And where have various other titans living on earth at different times got their knowledge about the secret of life and death—their initiation? Even today there must be such 'initiates' living on earth, and there must be some way to obtain initiation, the really great initiation." —Elizabeth Haisch, Initiation
Evidenced throughout recorded history, such luminaries possessed a secretive body of knowledge whose application helped to shape their dynamic personalities for the betterment of society. Their esoteric knowledge, "intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest" (Oxford Languages), was covertly sustained through the remarkable temperament, impeccable standards, and resolute integrity of its adherents. Hidden within religious and scriptural allegory, their essential wisdom and practical methodologies demonstrate incredible, volatile, and transformative power, which, presented to the wrong hands, could disrupt and catalyze humanity's trajectory towards destruction.
"That this knowledge was carefully guarded by those who were its custodians was also recognised, and throughout the ages the same reason for their caution was assigned; that in the wrong hands this power, if abused, could produce serious harm, because men had no right to make use of it for any personal end, since it was derived from the Great Author of the Universe. The men who held it were trustees and not owners, and might not appropriate this sacred power to their own uses without being guilty of a crime against their God and their fellow-men; and we have many traditions of the swift and heavy punishment which befell those who thus offended, either at the hands of their fellow-initiates, or of the higher powers against whom they had sinned." ―Dion Fortune, The Training and Work of an Initiate: "Chapter I: Laying the Foundations," p. 18
This is why such prophets, messengers, and hierophants of the ancient mysteries instituted secret orders, whose codified stipulations were designed to test the sincerity, responsibility, and qualifications of the candidate. Admission into the most potent and expedient methods for psychological transformation was demanding, since genuine knowledge of divinity is exact, immutable, and scientific. Based upon cosmic laws, the spiritual path is realized through profound study, conscious action, and a unwavering discipline with efficient tools. The ascent out of ignorance, suffering, and affliction towards the comprehension of one's divine nature requires that aspirants learn to abandon everything they believe they are, so as to achieve, in the Biblical parable of the merchant, the pearl of heaven (Matthew 13:45-46).
Finding Authentic Initiatic Schools
"Many have called themselves of your band; many spurious pretenders have been so-called by the learned ignorance which still, baffled and perplexed, is driven to confess that it knows nothing of your origin, your ceremonies or doctrines, nor even if you still have local habitation on the earth." ―Edward Bulwer Lytton, Zanoni: Book III: Chapter V
While many modern spiritual movements are fascinated by these initiatic schools from antiquity (and even contemporaneously imitate their example), discovering reliable knowledge―amidst a plethora of antithetical, inconsistent, and incompatible teachings for today's world―is difficult. As stated by genuine Sufi initiates even as far back as 437 H / 1045 C.E.:
Abu-l-Abbas Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Dinawari observed, “They pull down the pillars of Sufism and tear up its road; they alter its meanings with names they have invented. They call covetousness ‘growth,’ bad behavior ‘sincerity,’ departing from the truth ‘ecstatic utterance,’ and taking pleasure in the objectionable ‘good nature.’ The pursuit of desires is ‘testing,’ returning to the world is ‘union,’ bad temper is ‘forcefulness,’ avarice is ‘endurance,’ begging is ‘work,’ foul language is ‘calling blame upon oneself.’ This is not the way of the [Sufi] people.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Even the most divine teachings become corrupted due to exposure to human avarice, covetousness, and degeneration. A mystery school only lives in accordance with the level of being and spiritual qualifications of its teachers and students, which is not based upon degrees within the physical world, but the unobstructed profundity of divine communion. Due to the eventual deterioration of religious institutions and forms, it is ever more necessary for divinity to manifest the secret wisdom ubiquitously, for no singular culture, people, temporality, or space can lay sovereign and exclusive claim to the universal knowledge dormant within the heart of all living beings. Likewise, by following one's intuition, inquietudes, and inner conscience, the aspirant is conduced towards the door to initiatic development and realization of the mysteries.
"At first on rare occasions; here and there, with my inner ears, I heard the voice of truth speaking in a book or in the words of a living person. And I always went further in the direction indicated by this mysterious voice. Like the thread of Ariadne, this secret voice always led me on. Sometimes I found someone in my own home town who could give me valuable information for my further search, and sometimes this voice led me far away into strange lands, where I often found information that was in remarkably close agreement with the words I had heard at home.
"Thus my path led me to people with ever greater knowledge who explained more and more to me about initiation and about the meaning of life. Naturally I also met many ignorant people and people with half knowledge who pretended to know. But I got so I could recognize immediately when 'the hands were Esau's, but the voice was Jacob's.' These poor charlatans, pretending to be 'initiates', gave themselves away very fast. They were not even in harmony with themselves and their own life, so how could they have taught me anything about the deepest truth of life, about initiation? In such cases I simply went on seeking someone with true knowledge, a true initiate." —Elizabeth Haisch, Initiation
Esoteric authors from both East and West converge upon one essential point: how initiates are defined by their penetrative wisdom and perfect disposition for the betterment of humanity, for "by their fruits you shall know them" (Matthew 7:20). Placing the weal of the multitudes above their own, the masters, prophets, and superhumans work tirelessly so the spiraling evolution of countless humanities can reach the heights of reality, philosophy, and truth.
The Superhuman: An Incredulous Reality
All societies have longed for the realization of their most beloved ideals, yet―as consistently proven in the practical field of life and by the rise and fall of empires―has always produced decadence and decay. Consistently neglecting to enact the legitimate causes of liberty and happiness, terrestrial politics have failed to embody the virtues, principles, and wisdom of the initiates, whose genius is the secret impetus, catalyst, and influence of the multitudes.
"Around the inventors of new values the world revolves: invisibly it revolves. But around the actors [religious, political, and philosophical leaders who claim to be initiates, but are not] revolve the people and fame: that is the way of the world." ―Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: "On the Flies of the Marketplace"
Initiates, having developed themselves beyond the common and accepted spectrum of humanity's potential intelligence, creativity, and power, have direct knowledge and access to divinity's will. Having passed beyond mundane concepts of good and evil, initiates perceive through the turbulence, bewilderment, and ethical disorientation of the populace, which, while postulating transcendent moral doctrines, hastens towards violence and war. The greatest initiates always know how to discriminate between conflicting ideological binaries, perceiving the syntheses of phenomena and feasible solutions to many societal ills. However, blindly enamored by political fanaticism, religiosity, and dogma, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom," whose inequalities and injustices will result in great catastrophes, "famines and earthquakes in various places" (Matthew 24:7).
Yet the foremost initiates who perceive our existential dilemma of "to be or not to be," act compassionately on behalf of those who suffer. However, due to their radical perfection and negation of any egotistical condition of mind, the multitudes look upon their saviors with incomprehension and horror. This is why whenever any initiate incarnates the Christic force (personified by many masters besides Jesus of Nazareth), humanity rewards him or her with slander, persecutions, and torture:
"Changes are essential during esoteric progress, but reactionary people remain trapped in the past, petrified in time, and they thunder and flash against us as we achieve deep psychological progress and radical changes.
"People cannot bear the changes in an Initiate; they want him to continue to be petrified in many yesterdays.
"Any change achieved by an Initiate is immediately classified as immoral.
"Looking at things from this angle, in the light of the Christic Work [the path of the Superhuman], we can clearly prove the ineffectiveness of the diverse moral codes which have been written throughout the world.
"Unquestionably, the Christ, manifested though hidden in the heart of the real human, once he takes charge of our diverse psychological states, is actually labeled as cruel, immoral and perverse because people do not know him.
"It is paradoxical that although people worship the Christ, they classify him with such appalling labels.
"Obviously, people who are unconscious and asleep only want an anthropomorphic, historic Christ of statues and unbreakable dogmas in whom they can easily fit all their clumsy, stale moral codes and all their prejudices and conditions.
"People can never conceive of the Intimate Christ [the Superhuman] in the heart of the human being. The masses only worship the statue of Christ, that is all." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion: "The Christic Work"
The heights of initiation, as demonstrated in the lives of Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Krishna, and the prophets, is the realization of one's ultimate divinity, the Cosmic Christ, a universal intelligence that can incarnate within the consciousness of any individual whom has been properly prepared. Christ, the Superhuman, transcends and rebels against popular concepts of morality, theory, nationality, race, and theology:
"The Superhuman can distinguish good from evil and evil from good; he grasps the sword of cosmic justice and is beyond both good and evil." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion: "The Superman"
Untainted by mistaken, dualistic views, concepts, or philosophies, the initiates sacrifice themselves for humanity through instructing us about the causes of our ignorance, even when it is uncomfortable, terrifying, disturbing, and contrary to our most cherished beliefs. Since their transcendent state is beyond comprehension, the initiates terrify the public through the solemn verdict of their uncompromising conscience.
"Myself I sacrifice to my love [the Superhuman], and my neighbor as myself"―thus runs the speech of all creators [initiates]. But all creators are hard." ―Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: "On the Pitying"
This "hardness" of the creators was exemplified in Edward Bulwer Lytton's esoteric romance novel Zanoni, wherein Glyndon, an artist, painter, and possible candidate for an initiatic Rosicrucian order, questions the immortal Count Zanoni regarding the ethical behavior, philosophy, and superiority of the initiates:
"You do not seem, Signor Zanoni, to be one of the admirers of the dawning [French] Revolution [May 5, 1789 – November 9, 1799]. Perhaps you are prejudiced against the man [a follower of the upcoming rebellion] because you dislike the opinions?"
Glyndon paused, somewhat puzzled to define; but at length he said, "Nay, I must wrong you; for you, of all men, I suppose, cannot discredit the doctrine that preaches the infinite improvement of the human species."
"You are right; the few in every age improve the many; the many now may be as wise as the few were; but improvement is at a standstill, if you tell me that the many now are as wise as the few are."
"I comprehend you; you will not allow the law of universal equality!"
"Law! If the whole world conspired to enforce the falsehood they could not make it law. Level all conditions to-day, and you only smooth away all obstacles to tyranny to-morrow. A nation that aspires to equality is unfit for freedom. Throughout all creation, from the archangel to the worm, from Olympus to the pebble, from the radiant and completed planet to the nebula that hardens through ages of mist and slime into the habitable world, the first law of Nature is inequality."
"Harsh doctrine, if applied to states. Are the cruel disparities of life never to be removed?"
"Disparities of the physical life? Oh, let us hope so. But disparities of the intellectual and the moral, never! Universal equality of intelligence, of mind, of genius, of virtue!—no teacher left to the world! no men wiser, better than others,—were it not an impossible condition, what a hopeless prospect for humanity! No, while the world lasts, the sun will gild the mountain-top before it shines upon the plain. Diffuse all the knowledge the earth contains equally over all mankind to-day, and some men will be wiser than the rest to-morrow. And this is not a harsh, but a loving law,—the real law of improvement; the wiser the few in one generation, the wiser will be the multitude the next! [...]
"And these men [who would initiate the French Revolution], to commence their era of improvement and equality, are jealous even of the Creator. They would deny an intelligence,—a God!" said Zanoni, as if involuntarily. "Are you an artist, and, looking on the world, can you listen to such a dogma? Between God and genius there is a necessary link,—there is almost a correspondent language. Well said the Pythagorean, 'A good intellect is the chorus of divinity.'" ―Edward Bulwer Lytton, Zanoni: Book II, Chapter VII
While written almost two hundred years ago, Zanoni perfectly describes the chaos of contemporary global politics resulting from staunch materialism, fierce fanaticism, and extremist ideologies. By rejecting divinity, such movements strip away anything sacred from within the human being, reducing him, in the name of social equality, to a commodity and epiphenomenon of the brain. History has demonstrated that the denial of human principles inevitably leads to moral confusion, stagnation, and destruction, for in the words of Samael Aun Weor:
"Religious forms change according to the historical times and the races. Each race needs its special religious form.
"People need religion. People without religion are in fact totally barbarian, cruel, and pitiless." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic: "Religious Principles"
Without rejecting the need for economic and material equity, the initiates have propounded how equality can never exist within one's level of being. Hierarchies exist within nature, divinity, and spiritual masters, who are able to express heavenly forces according to their initiatic degree. Just as a light bulb can transmit greater brilliance, likewise the light of divinity manifests within the human being in accordance with their unique development.
Friedrich Nietzsche corroborates this doctrine of inequality and the superiority of the initiatic life in his Thus Spoke Zarathustra:
"You higher men, learn this from me: in the market place [the public world] nobody believes in higher men. And if you want to speak there, very well! But the mob blinks: 'We are all equal.'
"'You higher men'―thus blinks the mob―'there are no higher men, we are all equal, man is man; before God we are all equal.'
"Before God! But now this god has died [since Judeo-Christianity and Islam, the monotheistic religions, have degenerated: the initiatic teachings are lost]. And before the mob we do not want to be equal. You higher men, go away from the market place!" ―Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: "On the Higher Man"
White and Black Magic
While the divine initiatic colleges disdained and forbade the public dissemination of their teachings within the "marketplace," the colleges for black initiations became common and prominent. Besides every temple of light is a temple of darkness. Just as there exist initiates who cultivate the most sublime ideals and purest sentiment within humanity, likewise there are initiates who develop and empower egotism, manipulation, desire, and the lowest animal qualities possible.
White magic is the individual's capacity to invoke, manifest, and express―in accordance with the will of divinity―the qualities of unconditioned consciousness for human enlightenment. Black magic is the practitioner's hypnotic abilities to control, deceive, and manipulate others through channeling the influence of conditioned perception, the animal ego. While white magicians respect the will of others and offer teachings based on the conscious principle of persuasion, the black magician receives his power through coercing, suppressing, and dominating other people.
Innumerable schools of black magic exist due to the closing of the initiatic colleges. To escape persecution, judgment, and the Inquisition, many white magicians closed their doors while the black lodges, ever opportunistic and zealous, gained ground and influence. However, due to inexperience, gullibility, and an intimate yearning for any hidden knowledge, aspirants have, in most cases, been incapable of discriminating between positive and negative, thereby submitting themselves with fervor upon the black path.
"When the dark age arrived, the colleges of Initiation were closed. This was a fatality. Henceforth, as a matter of fact, the great black lodges, which were born during the archaic darkness of the ancient times, became more active. The limit of light is darkness. Next to every temple of light another of darkness exists, and where the light more brightly shines, there darkness becomes more dense.
"The colleges of Initiation from Egypt, Greece, India, China, Mexico, Yucatan, Peru, Troy, Rome, Carthage, Chaldea, etc., had their dangerous antipodes, their fatal antitheses, tenebrous schools of black magic, fatal shadows of the light.
"Those schools of black magic were the shadows of the colleges of Initiation. Thus, when the colleges were closed, these fatal schools became very active.
"Therefore, it is not strange to find among these dens of the black lodge terms, sciences, and rituals similar to those that were used within the colleges of Initiation. This confuses the devotees of the path. By nature, the devotee is a lover of the “strange,” of the “exotic,” of the “distant,” and of the “impossible.” Therefore, when the devotees find a black magician of this type, speaking of the Egyptian, Mayan, Aztec, Inca, Greek, Chaldean, Persian mysteries, etc., they then ingenuously believe they have caught God by the beard and place themselves in the hands of the black magician, believing him to be white.
"These magicians of darkness abound wherever there existed colleges of Initiation. They are the antitheses of those colleges and they speak like masters, always boasting about being initiates of those colleges. They never say anything that could arouse suspicion. They show that they are kind and humble, defend the good and the truth, adopt tremendously mystical attitudes, etc. Evidently, under such conditions the naïve and inexperienced devotee abandons the path of the razor’s edge and entrusts himself fully to those wolves in sheep’s clothing. That is a fatality." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony: "Fatality"
Due to a similitude of language, culture, iconography, passcodes, and symbolism, many neophytes who would otherwise enter into initiation have deviated towards the dark arts, due to an innate curiosity and fascination with novelties. The colleges of light and darkness always struggle over and against students’ intellectual obsession with obscure metaphysical lore, which the Black Lodge adulterates and manipulates for its own purposes.
The reinterpretation or reappropriation of universal symbols, considered the exclusive forte of poststructuralist literary studies, is the original tactic of black magic. While poststructuralism focuses on the socio-cultural and linguistic attribution of conceptual meaning to words (the latter denominated “signifiers”), schools of black magic are qualified by their resignification and distortion of divine iconography, since they can never originate the spirituality they so desperately imitate, disfigure, and subsume.
"The black magician cannot use the symbols of white magic without bringing down upon himself the forces of white magic, which would be fatal to his schemes. He must therefore distort the hierograms so that they typify the occult fact that he himself is distorting the principles for which the symbols stand. Black magic is not a fundamental art; it is the misuse of an art. Therefore it has no symbols of its own. It merely takes the emblematic figures of white magic, and by inverting and reversing them signifies that it is left-handed. In symbolism, an inverted figure always signifies a perverted power." ―Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages: "Ceremonial Magic and Sorcery"
The misappropriation of spiritual symbolism is so prominent within mainstream media that the Eye of Ra, originally representative of divine omniscience within the universal White Lodges, has broached a new dual significance: the influential, subversive, and clandestine intelligentsia controlling global economic polity and the rebellious controversies of esoteric conspiracy theory fringe culture. These associations, fermented within counter-cultural movements and underground music scenes, have permeated even public acceptance, fascination, and belief through songs like “Silent Empire” by Polish death metal band Vader. Their 1995 album De Profundis (Latin: “Into the Depths”) and other dissident art constitute a reaction to musical orthodoxy and a critique of malevolent secret societies. While popular and underground media have reflected this reality, they have paradoxically served the purposes of such orders by confounding an essential point.
Despite such portrayals and critiques of illuminatist iconography, modern mystical and counter-cultural art reflect the lowest animal impulse of humanity's nature, precipitating and conditioning it de profundis: into the hellish depths of pride, anger, fear, hatred, avarice, vanity, and lust. These are the very egotistical qualities and conditions that allow for manipulation, extortion, and crime on an international scale. Convincing to the many, the fear produced by such oppositional and conspiratorial ideologies have gained enough currency within popular sentiment as to completely obscure the fundamental reality of genuine esotericism in its imperative, practical application.
The Secret Teachings of Alchemy
Initiation involves the utilization and concentration of expedient methods for transforming one's conditions of mind into the liberated, intuitive, comprehensive, and penetrative wisdom of an awakened consciousness. The principal and definitive technique at the heart of positive initiatic schools is the metallurgical art, philosophy, mysticism, and science of alchemy.
Commonly designated as an esoteric, obsolete, and foolish pursuit for charlatans, mountebanks, and imposters, alchemy is the pragmatic core of initiatic doctrine, whereby one's lower animal desires, the conditioned mind or lead of our terrestrial personality, is reduced, sublimated, and elevated into the ultimate, golden synthesis of human potential: a divine being with mastery of nature's material and spiritual elements for the beautification of human evolution. Conceptualized as the greedy quest of vain, ambitious, and desperate quacks for acquiring physical wealth, alchemy instead is the highest knowledge for transforming the ordinary human being into the superhuman, "to be born again" in the teachings of Jesus (John 3:5).
What happens is that people conflate alchemical symbolism with the literal hunt for creating gold, jewels, and diamonds, ignoring that these represent the flowerings, virtues, and sacred capacities of an illuminated consciousness, realized once the impurities of our desires are transmuted.
Transmutation signifies trans, the prefix signifying the movement, flow, or "carrying over" of a one substance into another. This is where we find words like transcend or transfix, to elevate or fundamentally shift one positionality into another. Trans also means “across, beyond or through; to change something thoroughly; to move.”
Mutate or mutation relates to “causing something to change in form or nature." By conserving one's essential energies, forces, volitions, capacities, vitality, and creative powers, such an overflow becomes the reservoir in which to give birth to an entirely new being. A superhuman or mutant is a being who was once like us, but through the alchemical science was transformed into a god, buddha, angel, master, or prophet. Such beings have a complete knowledge of the universe that is inaccessible to those who have never cultivated their spiritual senses, which have as much, if not more, reality than sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. By mastering the force of genesis, life, and sexual volatility in themselves, initiates are able to control the untapped reserve of nature's power for the benefaction of civilizations, albeit in strict anonymity.
Edward Bulwer Lytton, the author of the esoteric romance Zanoni, describes the alchemical science that was once shrouded in allegory, metaphors, symbols, and parables, to which he was given minor authority to unveil at least the hem of the initiatic garment, but not what lay beneath:
"The laws of attraction, of electricity, and of the yet more mysterious agency of that great principal of life, which, if drawn from the universe, would leave the universe a grave, were but the code in which the Theurgy of old sought the guides that led it to a legislation and science of its own. To rebuild on words the fragments of this history, it seems to me as if, in a solemn trance, I was led through the ruins of a city whose only remains were tombs. From the sarcophagus and the urn I awake the genius of the extinguished Torch, and so closely does its shape resemble Eros, that at moments I scarcely know which of ye dictates to me,—O Love! O Death!" ―Edward Bulwer Lytton, Zanoni: Book III: Chapter V
Alchemy is the science of Eros, eroticism, and sexual love, which was practiced and maintained by the initiates with the utmost confidentiality, solitude, fidelity, and most importantly, purity. As the sexual fire of the creative Logos, Word, or ultimate divinity, the genius of the saints is found in their perfect adherence to the principles and rites of chastity: stainless, immaculate, and ethical sexual relations between husband and wife. Through the death of lust, desire, hatred, calumny, pride, arrogance, sloth, and addictions, the initiates resurrect from within the psychological tombs and sarcophagi of dead bones, refuse, and decomposition, to the innate happiness of divine union: that of Eros, Christic love, with the perfect soul or Psyche.
Sexual alchemy, magic, or tantrism, is the highest wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism, Jainism, Sufism, Esoteric Christianity, Judaism, Kabbalah, and all religions. It signifies how married couples can conserve their creative potential within the sexual act, transforming the Genesiatic waters that can give birth to a physical child so as to gestate the golden child of alchemical wisdom: the Christ principle or superhuman beyond good and evil.
Due to the controversial, taboo, and contentious nature of sexuality within spiritual studies, the initiates have always conserved the ultimate secret of regeneration within the allegories and metaphors of scripture, so that the uninitiated, ill equipped to decipher its codes, symbolism, and knowledge, could not harm themselves. Sexual alchemy is so powerful that the initiates who dared to convey its secrets outside their orders were executed, poisoned, or killed, since they violated their oaths to maintain its absolute secrecy, thereby protecting the teachings from corrupting and being corrupted by the ignorant.
"The secret of Sexual Magic was incommunicable. That is the great Arcanum. Those unfortunate ones who divulged the unspeakable secret were sentenced to death. They were taken to a stone patio, and before a millenary wall covered with crocodile skins and indecipherable hieroglyphics, their heads were cut off, their hearts were torn out, and their cursed ashes were flung to the four winds.
"This brings to mind the great French poet Cazote, who died at the guillotine during the French Revolution. This man prophesied his own death at a famous banquet along with the fate that was awaiting a certain group of noble initiates who contemplated divulging the great Arcanum [referenced in Edward Bulwer Lytton's Zanoni: Book I, Chapter 6]. For some he prophesied the guillotine, for others the dagger, poison, jail, exile. His prophecies were fulfilled with absolute accuracy. In the Middle Ages, anyone who divulged the great Arcanum died mysteriously, be it by shirts of Nessus, poisoned soaps that arrived as a birthday present at the door of the condemned, perfumed bouquets, or the dagger." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony: "The Seven Churches"
The premise of Zanoni is that even advanced initiates, masters, and superhumans lost their lives for divulging and betraying the mysteries of their order. This is due to the fact that such people are not ordinary, for by expanding their abilities through exceptional disciplines, study, and knowledge, they gained greater responsibilities. The higher an initiate’s level of being, hierarchy, and power, the more severe their downfall for betraying divine law.
Types of Initiation
While initiation is commonly defined as “formal admission or acceptance into an organization or club; adult status in one's community or society,” this relates to “ceremonies, rites of admission, rites of passage" that do not exclusively occur within the physical world, but in higher dimensions of being and spiritual experience.
"What is this power that great souls contact? Esoteric tradition affirms that they take initiation of one kind or another; for there are two kinds, physical and nonphysical, which are usually taken together, though. sometimes only one and not the other is experienced. The physical initiation admits to the study of the esoteric wisdom acquired by generations of men who sought beneath the surface of existence, who sought the inner meaning of things rather than their outer forms; it admits the student to the fellowship and confidence of these men, and disposes them to share their knowledge and to accept the initiate as a co-worker or pupil.
"The second form of initiation is declared to be a spiritual experience, wherein the soul establishes contact with the higher powers and is admitted to the fellowship of great souls on the Inner Planes. Of these two forms of initiation, sometimes one and sometimes another comes first; sometimes the physical, the lesser initiation, is the earlier, and the student is then taught how to prepare himself for the spiritual experience. In other cases it is the spiritual initiation that comes first, and then the student is shortly afterwards placed in the way of taking the physical initiation if he so desires; but esotericists are all agreed that, although. individuals may not necessarily take both initiations, the one always carries with it the opportunity for the other." ―Dion Fortune: The Training and Work of an Initiate: "Chapter II: The Way of Initiation," p. 27-28
Tests, ordeals, and hardships are given by divinity to those souls who wish to enter initiation, primarily as a means of verifying the psychological character and qualifications of the candidate. Entrance to the higher worlds is predicated upon a firm application and embodiment of the greatest virtues. Therefore, for an aspirant to enter the mysteries, they must prove themselves in their daily, physical life.
Who Receives Initiations?
While many people approach initiation with arrogance, self-aggrandizement, and mystical pride, the reality is that initiatic degrees are only acquired by the humble, sincere, reflective, and serious: those who renounce worldliness, passion, desires, and fears in every aspect of their existence:
"In this day and age, the Masonic Lodge grants its degrees based on money and social status. Many sell initiations. Many are bestowed with initiations. Yet, all of this is exploitation and black magic.
"Authentic degrees and authentic white initiations are received in the consciousness. These initiatic ceremonies are performed within the superior worlds.
"Initiations are intimate realizations of the consciousness, which must not be revealed, or spoken about.
“No one can grant initiations to anyone. Initiation is attained through life itself.
"In this day and age, everybody wants to be a master. Notwithstanding, we state that there is only one master, this is the inner Christ, which enlightens every human being who comes into the world. Thus, only Christ is the master. Only the resplendent “I Am” is the master." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Major Mysteries: "Preparation for Initiation 7"
The real master is within our consciousness and has nothing to do with our "self." By renouncing our most cherished identity, vanities, ambitions, and cravings, we can experience the fundamental reality and nature of our authentic Being.
In the words of Samael Aun Weor, the founder of the modern Gnostic Movement:
"Initiation is something very intimate to the Soul. The “I” does not receive initiations. Therefore, those who say, “I have so many initiations,” “I have such-and-such degrees,” are liars and fakes, because the “I” does not receive initiations or degrees. There are nine Initiations of Minor Mysteries and five important Initiations of Major Mysteries. The Soul is the one who receives the initiations. This is a very intimate matter; something that one must not go about speaking of, nor something that must be told to anyone. Indeed, all the initiations and degrees that many schools of the physical world confer have no value whatsoever in the superior worlds, because the masters of the White Lodge only recognize the legitimate initiations of the Soul as genuine. These are completely internal." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
Can One Achieve Initiation without Knowing It?
Many approach these Gnostic studies and assume that they are initiates, that they have received spiritual degrees, and are recognized, validated, and canonized by their communities and the gods. However, in the words of Samael Aun Weor:
"Gnosis is lived upon facts, withers away in abstractions, and is difficult to find even in the noblest of thoughts." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
Genuine initiations are living mystical experiences within the superior worlds, lucid visions and awakening within the world of dreams. If one does not have these experiences, has no recollection of them, nor any idea what they constitute, then such aspirants, while extremely devoted, are sincerely mistaken.
"We are often asked whether it is possible to be initiated without knowing it. To this question we return an emphatic negative. On the face of it, it is absurd to think that we could be unconscious of receiving permanent extension of consciousness. It frequently happens, however, that a Master has accepted someone as his pupil without that person being immediately aware of it owing to the undeveloped state of his psychic faculties, and realisation dawns only after the training has progressed a certain distance. In such a case a psychic would be able to inform such a person that he had indeed found acceptance as a pupil of the Great White Brotherhood and had set foot on the Path that leads to Initiation, but he would be wrong in saying that he had been initiated." ―Dion Fortune: The Training and Work of an Initiate: "Chapter III: Preparation for Initiation," p. 34-35
Real development is based on radical honesty with oneself. The truth is that the many who assume they are noble, charitable, and holy are farther away from initiation than the Mary Magdalenes who recognize their culpability, insignificance, and shame. Real initiation is hard, because it necessitates the unconditional negation of one's most beloved attachments, desires, ideas, and convictions. In the words of one German initiate:
"What does he know of love who did not have to despise precisely what he loved!" ―Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: "On the Way of the Creator"
Or: what does a person know of conscious, divine love (alchemical chastity) who did not have to despise precisely what he loved (his or her lust and animal desires)?
Qualities and Qualifications of the Initiates
Since initiation is demanding, it is beneficial to reflect upon the psychological, ethical, and spiritual qualities of the candidate to verify, understand, and clarify what an initiate is. Fortunately, there exists an extensive body of knowledge regarding initiatic qualifications, which can serve as a starting point for exploring, studying, exemplifying, and incorporating their principles.
"The initiates of the occult sciences are taught to function upon these different levels, to use a terminology derived from the East; or, to express the same idea in Western words, to think in these different ways. Before we are ripe for a Master's teaching we have to conquer the physical and emotional levels for ourselves, for to this stage the normal state of evolution enables us to develop without any external interference. We must render the body an absolute servant which has no longer the power to make its needs imperative; it is to this end that much of the extreme asceticism of the Yoga methods of India is directed. We of the West, however, do not practise these methods; it is enough that the body should be rendered a voluntary collaborator and not an abject slave, Tum a man's desires towards a higher level, and they will automatically lift him there; as a great Initiate said: 'As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.'
"The emotions must flow freely, without conflict or distortion, in the channels which Nature has appointed for them before they can be lifted to a higher level. You cannot sublimate a pathology.
"The direction of the energies of life must be removed from the domain of the desires to that of the will. Until this is done there can be no steady progression in any direction, for the desires are called forth from without, not directed from within, and vary with the external stimulus." ―Dion Fortune: The Training and Work of an Initiate: "Chapter I: Laying the Foundations, p. 21-22
Chastity, the pure redirection of our sexual life forces, is the beginning of initiation. The sexual energy in its natural function, form, and essence is the ability to create. The problem is that humanity is conditioned by animal desire, thereby directing the natural spiritual functions of the sexual energy towards and through the ego, self, or "I."
No one needs to be educated about how to copulate with lust, animality, and desire, the culmination of the orgasm, since this is common knowledge and accepted practice. Instead, humanity now must be taught how fornication, the orgasm, depletes one of vitality, energy, strength, and power that could otherwise be conducted, sublimated, and used for the edification of our spirituality―to take the capacity to create a child and use it for a very different purpose: the elaboration of a perfected soul.
Progress within initiation is based upon how we conserve the sexual energy and never waste it. This is the essential tenet of Tantric Buddhism, sexual alchemy, chastity, or white tantra, described by Padmasambhava's consort Yeshe Tsogyal:
"...train your [sexual] energy flows until you gain self-control [over lust and orgasm],
And after receiving the three superior initiations, transmute the ensuing desire,
To perfect the nature of the four levels of joy,
For six months or until signs of achievement appear in the body.
"Unite male and female energies,
Developing the method of mixing higher and lower energies,
Female assisting male and male assisting female,
The principles of each being separately practiced.
"Intensify and elevate your practice, broadening the horizons of your bliss;
But if bliss and Emptiness [comprehension of selflessness, the absolute absence of desire] are not identified,
Profitlessly you stray from the path of Tantra:
Apprehend the intrinsic unity of bliss and Emptiness.
"Guard the samaya [oath of chastity] of Guru and Dakini like your eyes;
In various skillful ways enjoy the five sacred substances;
Practice to perfection the skill of retaining your seed-essence [semen]
Be attentive to obstacles and hostile powers [your egos, defects, vices];
If the samaya [chastity] is impaired strive to restore it.
"About the body: do not let it slip into old habits [of lust and orgasm]
Or you will become like ordinary men and women [who are animals];
With the confidence of the deity, meditate charged with power
And inform your focal points of energy as a principal and his circle of deities.
"About speech: concentrate upon mantra and energy flows -
Without energy control your sexual activity is fornication [lustful sex];
Properly execute the exercises of 'drawing up' [the spine] and 'saturating' [brain and heart]
And with the [iron] nails of your imagination apply an hermetic seal [to prevent any loss of energy].
―Yeshe Tsogyal, Fruition and Buddhahood
The sexual energy or libido is so powerful that Sigmund Freud rightly declared it the driving force of all behaviors. This is due to the fact that sexual energy engages within an infinitude of modifications, manifestations, and expressions. If our mind and actions are perverse, saturated by hatred, morbidity, pessimism, fear, and violence, then our sexuality will empower those egotistical actions. At the same time, by training the sexual energy to flow inward and upward within our physiology and psychology, we empower our noblest aspirations, longings, and spiritualty.
"Gnosis is a two-edged sword, it defends and gives life to the humble and virtuous; yet, it wounds and destroys the curious and impure." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Major Mysteries: "Preparation for Initiation 16"
Gnosis is therefore the path of balance, whereby one acculturates, little by little, towards upright thought, feeling, and action, without craving or attachment to powers, results, and consequences. The initiate learns to act for the benefit of others with dispassion, clarity, and insight:
"A great equilibrium in the consciousness is necessary in order to become an initiate; thus, it is necessary to cultivate powers but not to covet them; to aspire to initiation but not to covet it; to know how to find virtues within the heart of the wicked and to know how to find evilness within the heart of the righteous." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Major Mysteries: "Preparation for Initiation 9"
"For every step that we take in the development of our occult powers, we must take a thousand steps on the path of sanctity." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Major Mysteries: "Preparation for Initiation 2"
Sadly, humanity does not recognize or understand the virtuous, because of the corrupted lens through which we perceive reality, philosophy, spirituality, and existence. This explains why many initiates have maintained unparalleled secrecy in the past, because their spiritual capital horrifies, confounds, and offends the spiritually-deficit and morally-bankrupt public.
"When judgmental people try to evaluate the daily lives of the great initiates, they always judge mistakenly, since judgmental people do not comprehend the extreme simplicity of the great initiates." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Major Mysteries: "The Apostolate"
It is only through innocence, purity of mind, and joyful perseverance with esoteric discipline that a genuine understanding of initiatic mysteries becomes possible:
"We need to have the mind of a child in order to enter into the Major Mysteries. We need to be like children in our minds and hearts. We need to be perfect as our Father who is in heaven is perfect. The great mysteries are not achievable through vain intellectualisms; the Major Mysteries are achievable with the heart of a child." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Major Mysteries: "Preparation for Initiation 2"
Despite the formidable achievements made by the superhumans of the world, their primary quality is humility, simplicity, generosity, and compassion. Without assumptions, pretensions, or arrogance, the initiates serve others rather than themselves due to the inconceivable magnitude of their selfless love.
"We do not worship noble titles, nor resounding titles like 'doctor, lawyer, guru, master, elder brother, avatar,' etc., because among Gnostics we are all friends, and Aquarius is the house of friends." ―Samael Aun Weor, The Major Mysteries: "Meetings' Regulations"
Ethics and Dangers in Spiritual Schools
To enter initiation, one must be wary of those who proclaim to be spiritual but are not. Jesus proclaimed them to be "false prophets" (Matthew 7:15) whose ravenous appetite for followers and extortion has led many into suffering, yet by whose "fruits" or actions we "shall know them" (Matthew 7:16).
Samael Aun Weor, a practical initiate and proponent of sexual alchemy, offered valuable advice from his own experience with esoteric groups, schools, and movements. While offensive to their proud adherents, his severity with the incapacity, jealousy, and corruption of many spiritual organizations cuts directly through many insincerities and self-deceits commonly propagated today. He also provides some basic parameters for anyone, regardless of country, culture, religion, race, gender, or creed, to actualize a unique transformation of their personal character and enter the "straight and narrow gate" of initiation "that leads to life," which "few find" (Matthew 7:14).
"The disciple who wants to enter the straight, narrow and difficult path that leads us to the Light has to withdraw from all spiritual schools. Those schools are filled with 'sublime crimes.' Those schools are golden cages filled with 'very beautiful poisonous vipers.' Mystic evilness is very abundant in those schools.
"Under the shelter of the divine phrase “Universal Fraternity” the worst crimes registered in the penal code are committed.
"It is distressful for us to state this, but complacency with crime is also a crime. It is as bad to be silent when one must talk as to talk when one must be silent. We would like to be silent, yet one not only pays karma for the evil things that were done, but also for the good things that were left undone when these things could have been done. Therefore, we cannot be silent about this. We love humanity very much, thus we need to point out crime, to touch the wound with the finger in order not to fall into the crime of being complacent with crime. If we did not say these things we would put a horrible karma (the karma of accomplices and cowards) on ourselves. So, the truth, although harsh, is the best friend.
"All spiritual schools, orders and lodges are delectable gardens within which stand out nests of dangerous vipers and poisonous flowers filled with perfume. Ineffable enchantments that lead us to the abyss, as well as sublime theories that can lead us to the precipice, and sweet smiles that carry us to disgrace exist within those schools where their devotees are filled with hypocrisy and fanaticism. Indeed, the opium of theories is more dangerous than death.
"Spiritual devotees hug with one hand and with the other they stab the back with the sharp dagger of treason.
"Spiritual devotees always cover their worst evilness with smiles and very sweet words. We do not have the intention of criticizing any person in particular because that is wrong; this is why we speak in a general manner for the good of the Great Work of the Father.
"We have known horrible cases, i.e. we knew the case of a certain hypocritical Pharisee who passed himself off as Jesus Christ; he founded an order of black magic and later he alleged that he was uniting all the schools, orders, sects, creeds and lodges within a universal fraternity; and he was the center of it all, naturally.
"We knew about another subject who took the name of K. H. in order to declare that he was an Avatar, and that he should reunite all the schools under his scepter. All these types of opportunist subjects tend to found black lodges under the shelter of the beautiful phrase “Universal Fraternity.”
"We cannot remain silent about this because complacency with crime is also a crime. Almost all the spiritual devotees are totally petrified by their intellect; almost all of them remained frozen with the spiritual theories of the nineteenth century, and filled with pride, fear and arrogance, reject the secret doctrine of our Lord the Christ.
"Therefore, we advise our disciples to be very careful; it is better to withdraw from these types of gentlemen, because they are dangerous and deceitful. Whosoever betrays the Christ falls into the abyss.
"In these times, many false Christs are appearing, and those who affiliate with them commit the crime of high treason.
"Jesus Christ is the leader of all souls; this great Master lives in Oriental Tibet.
"Do not forget that crime is hidden within the incense of prayer; yes, crime is hidden within the mixture of perfumes and litanies. False Christs have sublime appearances.
"To state that 'this is good' or 'that is evil,' is an easy matter, yet to have cognizance of the good from the evil and the evil from the good is very difficult.
"Black lodges are filled with sincere but mistaken people; the abyss is filled with people with very good intentions.
"When we enter into the true path of initiation, then all the spiritual devotees turn against us. Christ was crucified by the spiritualists of his time.
"Many enter the path and thereafter they no longer want to continue working in order to fulfill the needs of every good citizen. Those wretched beings neglect their duties towards their family, the world and their own selves. We have heard them say phrases like: 'Money is vain,' 'This is the world of Maya (illusion),' 'I am no longer interested in the things of the world,' etc. This is how these wretched disciples fail because they do not know how to fulfill their duties. This is how these devotees of the path move away from initiation, precisely because they do not know how to fulfill their duties as simple citizens.
"Our disciples will now comprehend why we stated that crime is also hidden within the incense of prayer.
"The one who enters the path must first of all be a model spouse, a model father/mother, a model child, a model citizen, a magnificent grandson/daughter and a patriarchal grandfather/mother, etc. The one who does not know how to fulfill his duties as a simple citizen cannot tread the path of the great mysteries. Many disciples forget the good manners of a sincere and honorable gentleman/lady and become truly irresponsible and even dangerous individuals.
"People that had never stolen became thieves of books and money when they entered the path. The younger devotees who enter the spiritual path steal books, or they borrow them and never return them, etc. Others cheat their disciples, they borrow money from them and thereafter they steal it, etc.
"Under the shade of the word 'fraternity' all the crimes mentioned in the penal code are committed. There are those who take other people’s money and allege that the money is for good deeds. There are those who criticize those who work, supposedly because everything is vanity, etc.
"This is how devotees close the path that leads to the great mysteries to themselves.
"On the path, there are many devotees who commit adultery, justifying themselves with phrases like these, 'My spouse is refractory to the spiritual teachings,' 'The other partner I have agrees with my ideas,' 'The other is spiritual, and is the only one with whom I can practice sexual magic in order to attain in-depth realization,' etc., and a thousand other mystical phrases. This is how adulterers shut the doors of the temple unto themselves.
"Many devotees of the path use sexual magic as a pretext to seduce many naïve devotees; this is how these mystical adulterers withdraw from the altar of initiation and fall into the abyss.
"Sexual magic can only be practiced between husband and wife in legitimately constituted homes.
"Many devotees steal the neighbor’s spouse supposedly because the law of karma commanded it. All of these crimes have led thousands of spiritual devotees into the abyss.
"When we went to a certain country to fulfill a mission, we were assaulted by certain spiritual elements who visited us in order to criticize our books, to give us imperative orders and to insult us in our own home. In ordinary life, no gentleman/lady would dare to enter into someone else’s home in order to give orders and to insult the owner of the house, because they would find themselves involved in a domestic scene and in a problem with the police. Unfortunately, the devotees of the path fall into these states of terrible irresponsibility.
"Some even abandon the most basic laws of urban life and wander around the streets with their clothes dirty and in the most complete untidiness, and as a pretext they boast of being spiritual and being in disdain of the vanities of the world. However, this is called degeneration; this is how, with their pessimistic exposure, the devotees of the path drive many people away from the path.
"We must always dress in a decent manner, not because of pride, or vanity, but simply because of respect to our neighbor.
"The system in order to achieve in-depth self-realization has nothing to do with letting our beard or hair grow, or going around dirty on the streets. The one who wants to attain self-realization must start by being an upright and decent gentleman or lady.
"The one who wants to attain self-realization has to practice sexual magic and tread the path of the most perfect sanctity.
"Within most of the spiritual schools devotees speak ill of their fellowmen and argue like parrots. This is not right. No one has the right to judge anyone, because no one is perfect. Christ already told us, 'Judge not, that ye be not judged; for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again…' etc. Matthew 7:1-2. Thus, we do not have the right to criticize the neighbor’s defects. Gossip and slander have filled the world with pain and bitterness; defamation is worse than stealing. ―Samael Aun Weor, The Major Mysteries: "Preparation for Initiation 1"
Initiation is demanding, but if you seek it, the door is open.
The Gnostic Academy of Chicago
Gnostic articles on practical spirituality: the science, mysticism, art, and philosophy of conscious living.