This post begins the process of explaining what takes place during the First Initiation (enlightenment experience or expansion of consciousness) as described by Alice Bailey. Part One talks about the three stages of Initiation: Preparation, Expansion, Assimilation and walks us through the Preparation phase.
At last in this chapter we begin the process of looking at what happens as one goes through what Bailey calls the First Initiation. As a reminder I suggest you review Chapter Nine on Initiation Defined before you dive into this chapter further, though I will do a brief summary of what I said there in this chapter as well. This will be followed by a look at the symbolism involved with the First Initiation. Then we will dive into what happens during the initiation looking at it as a threefold process of: Preparation, Expansion, Assimilation.
INITIATION IN GENERAL
In brief we could say that initiation is an enlightenment experience where a higher level of consciousness has reached a point where it can finally influence to a larger degree a lower level of consciousness. Historically in cultures around the world we hear about young men and women going through initiation rites as they “come of age.” For example an adolescent is put through a series of tests or trials where their lives are altered and they come out of it no longer a young boy or girl, but a young man of woman. As a small child then, it might be said that when you leave home and start your first day of school you have gone through an initiation experience. Maybe you undergo a Bar Mitzvah or First Communion and again you have found yourself leaving one way of being behind and going into a new way of being complete with its new responsibilities. You have entered into a new understanding and way of being in life that changes who you are forever.
What then is the First Initiation? To put it as simply as I possibly can (before I make it a lot more complicated momentarily), it is the first time that Soul consciousness makes itself factually known within the consciousness of the Integrated Personality. Having factually entered into an understanding of what Soul consciousness is really like you simply can’t go back again to being just an Integrated Personality, though for a time you may try. To say it again in Bailey’s language, “When initiation becomes possible, it indicates that two great groups of energies (those of the triple integrated personality and those of the soul or solar angel) are beginning to fuse and blend. The energy of the soul is beginning to dominate and to control the lower types of force, and—according to the ray of the soul—so will be the body in which that control will begin to make its presence felt. This will be elaborated later in the section dealing with the rays as they govern the various bodies,—mental, emotional and physical. It should be remembered that very little egoic [i.e. SOUL] control need be evidenced when the first initiation is taken. That initiation indicates simply that the germ of soul life has vitalised and brought into functioning existence the inner spiritual body, the sheath of the inner spiritual man” (Esoteric Psychology, Vol. II, pp. 13—14). In short you have had a taste of what the Soul realm is really about, similar to the young boy or girl going through an initiation rite to get a “taste” of what it will be like to finally be a man or a woman.
So what does a taste of being the Soul look like? We will expand on this a great deal more in this chapter, but I would like to first insert this quote from Bailey about what the main effect of initiation is on anyone going through one. “Primarily it [i.e. initiation] involves the capacity to see, hear, and comprehend, and to synthesise and correlate knowledge. It does not necessarily involve the development of the psychic faculties, but it does entail the inner comprehension that sees the value underlying the form, and recognises the purpose of pervading circumstances. It is the capacity that senses the lesson to be learnt from any given occurrence and event, and that by means of these comprehensions and recognitions effects an hourly, weekly, yearly growth and expansion. This process of gradual expansion—the result of the definite effort and strenuous right thinking and living of the aspirant himself and not of some occult teacher performing an occult rite—leads to what one might term a crisis” (Initiation: Human & Solar, p. 14—15).
Let me emphasize a few words from the above quote.
- See, hear, comprehend, synthesize, correlate knowledge.
- See the value of anything and recognize its true purpose.
- Recognize the lessons you need to learn from any occurrence and event.
This is not your typical Hollywood movie scenario of God speaking to Moses from a burning bush, or Jesus having Elijah and Moses appear to him in Gethsemane, or Buddha getting an “aha moment” under the Bodhi tree. Those are just a few of the outer symbolic events supposedly taking place. Initiation is about an expansion of consciousness that increases one’s consciousness so that is has an ever greater capacity to do what is mentioned in the three points above.
As for the word “crisis” that refers to the process that the aspirant goes through when moving into the Technique of Integration — Crisis phase. Remember the Integrated Personality is in the Technique of Integration — Integration phase. The Aspirant is in the Technique of Integration — Alignment phase. Then as the Aspirant becomes the Probationer Disciple there is a shift into the Technique of Integration — Crisis phase. Next, will be the Chela in the Light in the Technique of Integration — Light phase.
The Technique of Integration is what is used to help one move through the First Initiation in the Bailey system, which along with the three points just mentioned a few paragraphs before will have the following results mentioned in Chapter Nine: Initiation Explained as well. Initiation entails:
- Moving into the “Hall of Wisdom” which is knowledge that has been embodied and applied.
- Bringing about an increasing unity with all that lives, not only in theory (Hall of Knowledge), but through a proven ability to demonstrate one’s “essential oneness of the self with all selves.”
- Enlarging your horizon to include the sphere of all creation. Again not in theory but in fact pertaining to how you live your everyday life.
- See and hear on all the planes, which is not about being able to be clairvoyant or clairaudient (which are lower psychic powers), but being able to do increasingly do the three things mentioned just before regarding increased comprehension.
- Further your understanding of the “Divine Plan” (and I might add be better equipped to make it a fact by manifesting it here on Earth).
- Increase your capacity to enter into and serve that “Divine Plan.”
THE INITIATOR & THE THREE FOLD STAGES
As we learned in Chapter Nine: Initiation Explained, each of Bailey’s major initiations has an “initiator.” In Chapter Nine we mentioned that at the First Initiation the initiator is one’s Soul. Though some may want to view the Soul as an entity, for now I feel it is best to see it as primarily a level of consciousness. The “Soul,” or this higher level of consciousness, is trying to birth itself within the Integrated Personality so it can infused it with Soul values. Soul values include things like selflessness, harmlessness, love, compassion, discernment, wisdom, equanimity, dispassion, comprehension and so forth. The more the Soul infuses the Integrated Personality, the more that Integrated Personality will be able to create positive changes in the world for not only humans, but other kingdoms (plant, animal, mineral) as well. As we have seen this is not always an easy process. As we saw in my book Becoming Human the Integrated Personality has become very powerful in the world and is very self-centered in the desire to consume as much money, pleasure and power to serve oneself as possible. In fact, not only may Soul values not exist, as we saw in my Becoming Human book Soul values may even be denigrated.
Over time, however, the Integrated Personality learns through life experience that money, pleasure, and power gained only for oneself fails to lead to the ultimate happiness the Integrated Personality thought it would. Now the person becomes an Aspirant, aspiring to know the Soul by attempting to come into “alignment” more with Soul values. Though Soul values are not really understood, and are often even distorted or perverted, there is still an attempt to figure out what Soul values are really about. As we have seen the Aspirant does this in a hit and miss kind of way where all too often under the name of “spirituality’ the selfishness of the Integrated Personality (with its thirst for lots of money, pleasure and power) still wins.
Then comes the Probationary Discipleship phase which is often entered into when a Crisis ensues. That Crisis frequently involves a pretty nasty fall from grace that causes the Aspirant to more rigorously explore and take up Soul values and spiritual disciplines in a more rigorous way. Still, this is the Probationary Discipleship phase, meaning though there is a more sincere attempt to discipline the Integrated Personality to act more in accord with Soul values, there is still a lot of hit and miss. The Probationary Disciple can still fall off of probation, and be pulled back into the Integrated Personality’s selfish ways. But, there is progress. Until finally there is enough progress that one is no longer at the stage of Little Chelaship (that includes the Aspirant and Probationary Discipleship stages), but is finally a Chela in the Light. Now, the “light” of the Soul finally breaks through and the Soul “reveals itself: at what Bailey calls the First Initiation.
Actually, as a reminder we said in Chapter Nine: Initiation Defined that every initiation in the Bailey model has three stages. 1. A beginning phase of preparation, which is is what the Little Chelaship (Aspirant and Probationer) phase is about. 2) The seemingly sudden expansion phase of breakthrough into a new level of consciousness, which is what is taking place in the Chela in the Light phase. 3) And an assimilation phase where we have to embody and live according to the new realizations we have been given, which is something not very many “enlightenment” traditions talk about, though it you may find them hinting at this. If you review what I have written about the Little Chelaship and Chela in the Light phases in my books Becoming Human and Becoming Soul, you will see just how much is involved in the First Initiation process, which really covers the entire gamut of spiritual revelations and changes that occur typically over a long period of time.
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