Always there have been temples and mysteries and holy places where the true aspirant could find what he sought, and the needed instruction as to the way he should go. The prophet of old said: “…a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it, for he shall be with them; the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.”
It is a way that leads from that which lies without to that which dwells within. It reveals, step by step, the hidden life which every form and symbol veils and hides. It assigns to the aspirant certain tasks which lead to his understanding, and produces an inclusiveness and wisdom which meet his deeply sensed need. He passes from the stage of enquiry to what the Tibetans call “straight knowledge.” Upon that path vision and hope give place to realisation. Initiation after initiation is undergone, each one leading the initiate nearer to the goal of complete unity. Those who in the past thus worked, agonised and attained, constitute a long chain, reaching out of the remotest past into the present, for the initiates are still with us and the door still stands wide open. Through the agency of this hierarchy of achievement, men are lifted step by step, up the long ladder reaching from earth to heaven [the spiritual world], to stand eventually before the initiator and in that high moment to find that it is the Christ Himself Who thus greets them—the familiar friend who, having prepared them by example and precept, now receives them into the presence of God. Such has been the experience, the uniform experience down the ages, of all seekers. Revolting in the East from the wheel of rebirth, with its constantly reiterated suffering and pain, or revolting in the West from the apparent monstrous injustice of the one sorrowful life which the Christian allots himself, men have turned within to find the light and peace and release so ardently desired.
Christ gives us a definite picture of the entire process in His own life story, built around those major initiations which are our universal heritage and glorious [and for many] the immediate opportunity. They are:
 The Birth at Bethlehem, to which Christ called Nicodemus, saying, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
 The Baptism in Jordan. This is the baptism to which John the Baptist referred us, telling us that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire must be administered to us by Christ.
 The Transfiguration. There perfection is for the first time demonstrated, and there the divine possibility of such perfection is proven to the disciples. The command goes forth to us, “Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
 The Crucifixion. This is called the Great Renunciation, in the Orient, with its lesson of sacrifice and its call to the death of the lower nature. This was the lesson which St. Paul knew and the goal toward which he strove. “I die daily,” he said, for only in the practice of death daily undergone can the final Death be met and endured.
 The Resurrection and Ascension, the final triumph which enables the initiate to sing and to know the meaning of the words: “Oh death, where is thy sting? Oh grave, where is thy victory?”
Such are the five great dramatic events of the mysteries. Such are the initiations [awakenings] through which all men must some day pass. Humanity [evolution of humanity as a whole] stands today upon the path of probation. The way of purification is being trodden by the masses, and we are in process of purging ourselves from evil and materialism. When this process is completed, many will find themselves ready to make preparation for the first of the initiations, and to undergo the new Birth. The disciples of the world are preparing for the second initiation, the Baptism, and for this must come a purification of the emotional desire nature and a dedication of the desire nature to the life of the soul. The initiates of the world are facing the Transfiguration initiation. Mind control and right orientation towards the soul, with a complete transmutation of the integrated personality, lies ahead of them. [From Bethlehem To Calvary, p21-23.]
At the first initiation, the control of the Ego over the physical body must have reached a high degree of attainment. “The sins of the flesh,” as the Christian phraseology has it, must be dominated; gluttony, drink, and licentiousness [immorality] must no longer hold sway. The physical elemental will no longer find its demand obeyed; the control must be complete and the lure departed. A general attitude of obedience to the Ego must have been achieved, and the willingness to obey must be very strong. The channel between the higher and the lower is widened, and the obedience of the flesh practically automatic. The heart centre is the one usually vivified, with the aim in view of the more effective controlling of the astral vehicle, and the rendering of greater service to humanity.
The second initiation forms the crisis in the control of the astral body. Just as, at the first initiation, the control of the dense physical has been demonstrated, so here the control of the astral is similarly demonstrated. The sacrifice and death of desire has been the goal of endeavour. Desire itself has been dominated by the Ego, and only that is longed for which is for the good of the whole, and in the line of the will of the Ego, and of the Master. The astral elemental is controlled, the emotional body becomes pure and limpid, and the lower nature is rapidly dying. At this time the Ego grips afresh the two lower vehicles and bends them to his will. The aspiration and longing to serve, love, and progress become so strong that rapid development is usually to be seen. This accounts for the fact that this initiation and the third, frequently [though not invariably] follow each other in one single life. At this period of the world’s history such stimulus has been given to evolution that aspiring souls—sensing the dire and crying need of humanity—are sacrificing all in order to meet that need. At this initiation the throat centre is vivified.
At the third initiation, the entire personality is illuminated or flooded with light from above from the soul. [The light of the soul] It is only after this initiation that the monad [spirit] is definitely guiding the Ego, pouring His divine life ever more into the prepared and cleansed channel. Again, a vision is accorded of what lies ahead; the initiate is in a position at all times to recognise the other members of the Great White Lodge, and his psychic faculties are stimulated by the vivification of the head centres. The aim of all development is the awakening of the spiritual intuition. The personality has now reached a point where its vibrations are of a very high order, the matter in all three bodies relatively pure, and its apprehension of the work to be done in the microcosm, and the share to be taken in the work of the macrocosm is very advanced. It is apparent, therefore, why it is only at the third initiation that the great Hierophant, the Lord of the World, Himself officiates. It is the first at which He contacts the initiate. Earlier it would not be possible. For the first two initiations the Hierophant is the Christ, the World-Teacher, the Firstborn among many brethren, one of the earliest of our humanity to take initiation. Now the fully consecrated physical body can safely bear the vibrations of the two other bodies when they return to its shelter from the Presence of the King, the Ancient of Days.
When purified and controlled they stand and for the first time consciously vibrate to the Ray of the Monad [spirit], then with prepared bodies can the ability to see and hear on all the planes be granted and achieved, and the faculty of reading and comprehending the records be safely employed, for with fuller knowledge comes added power. The heart is now sufficiently pure and loving, and the intellect sufficiently stable to stand the strain of knowing.
By the time the fourth initiation is taken the initiate has mastered perfectly the fifth sub-plane[the mental], and is therefore adept, [to use a technical phrase], on the five lower sub-planes of the physical, astral, and mental planes, and is well on the way to master the spiritual or buddhic plane the fourth from the top. His buddhic vehicle can function on the two lower sub-planes of the buddhic plane.
The life of the man, who takes the fourth initiation, is usually of great sacrifice and suffering. It is the life of the man who makes the Great Renunciation, and even exoterically it is seen to be strenuous, hard, and painful. He has laid all, even his perfected personality, upon the altar of sacrifice, and stands bereft of all. All is renounced, friends, money, reputation, character, standing in the world, family, and even life itself.
Before the fourth initiation can be taken, the work of training is intensified, and the hastening and accumulation of knowledge has to be unbelievably rapid. He has to grasp the laws of the three lower planes intellectually, and likewise wield them for the aiding of the scheme of evolution. He studies the cosmic planes and has to master the charts; he become versed in occult technicalities and develops fourth dimensional vision. He learns to direct the activities of the building devas, and at the same time, he works continually at the development of his spiritual nature….
The initiate has frequent access to the library of occult books, and after this initiation he can contact not only the Masters with Whom he is linked and with Whom he has worked consciously for a long time, but he can contact and assist the chohans, the Budhisattva and the Manu. [In measure.]
The Buddha, in His Four Noble Truths, stated in reality the platform upon which the initiate of the third initiation takes his stand. He desires nothing of a personal nature; he is liberated from the three worlds. The Christ pictured for us and emphasised the fourth initiation with its tremendous transition from the Fixed Cross to the Mount of Ascension, symbol of transition, through initiation.
This is the Crucifixion or Great Renunciation. One tremendous experience to the initiate at this time is the realisation [because he sees and knows] that the antahkarana has been successfully completed and that there is a direct line of energy from the Spiritual Triad, via the antahkarana, to his mind and brain. This brings to the forefront of his consciousness the sudden and appalling recognition that the soul itself, the egoic body on its own level, and that which for ages has been the supposed source of his existence and his guide and mentor, is no longer needed; his relation as a soul-infused personality, is now directly with the Monad. He feels bereft and is apt to cry out—as did the Master Jesus—“My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” But he makes the needed renunciation, and the causal body, the soul body, is relinquished, and disappears. This is the culminating renunciation and the climaxing gesture of ages of small renunciations; renunciation marks the career of all aspirants and disciples—renunciation, consciously faced, understood and consciously made.
This act of renunciation marks the moment when the disciple has nothing in him which relates him to the three worlds of human evolution. His contacts with those worlds in the future will be purely voluntary and for purposes of service. “Crucifixion” simply emphasises the suffering undergone by the initiate as he renounces all that is of a material nature and becomes a permanent and a non-fluctuating and unchanging member of the fifth kingdom in nature, the kingdom of God, called by us the Hierarchy. On all three planes, the disciple renounces; on all three planes he is, therefore, crucified. It connotes the ending of a life and—from the cosmic angle—of the personality life of the soul through many incarnations and a point of entrance into a new life for which all the past has been a preparation.
His life takes on a new colouring, totally unrelated to the three worlds of his past experience. He faces new spiritual adventures, and has now to tread the Path which leads him away from normal human evolution, on the Why of the Higher Evolution. This new experience he is well equipped to face.
THE FIFTH INITIATION…THE RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION
After the fourth initiation not much remains to be done. The domination of the sixth sub-plane goes forward with rapidity, and the matter of the higher sub-planes of the buddhic plane is co-ordinated. The initiate is admitted into closer fellowship in the Loge, and his contact with the devas is more complete. He is rapidly exhausting the resources of the Hall of Wisdom, and is mastering the most intricate plans and charts. He becomes adept in the significance of colour and sound, can wield the law in the three worlds, and can contact his Monad with more freedom. He is in charge, also of large work, teaching many pupils, aiding in many schemes, and is gathering under him those who are to assist him in future times. This refers only to those who stay to help humanity on this globe. After the fifth initiation the man is perfected as far as this scheme goes, though he may, if he will, take two further initiations.
[Initiation Human and solar, p82-90]
Click to add text, images, and other content