This post is Part Three explaining what takes place during the First Initiation (enlightenment experience or expansion of consciousness) as described by Alice Bailey. In this post we go into the second of the three stages associated with the First Initiation: the Expansion phase.
THE FIRST INITIATION — EXPANSION STAGE
“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (St. John, III.3.)
Before I get into some of the specific ideas of what happens at the expansion stage of this First Initiation, I would first like to note that Bailey claims that unlike some of the other initiations, this one in particular tends to have phenomena that goes with it that is usually registered within the brain. She states this is the case because the First Initiation is associated with what she calls the “seventh ray” that has an affinity for the physical plane. To quote her directly she states, “In connection with the individual and the first initiation, the seventh ray is always active and the man is enabled consciously to register the fact of initiation because either the brain or the mind (and frequently both) are controlled by the seventh ray. It is this fact which is of importance today in connection with humanity, for it will enable mankind to pass through the door admitting them to the first initiatory process. It will be apparent to you why the present period in which human beings (in large groups) can take the first initiation corresponds to a situation in which bread [i.e. an emphasis on money, gold, material life] is the major interest of men everywhere” Rays and Initiations, pp. 570
PHENOMENA REGISTERED WITHIN THE BRAIN
So we are told that especially at this initiation people experience some sort of phenomena. What kinds of phenomena can we expect here? In general it has to do with experiences of light, visions, hearing voices, and experiencing something known as the coming of the “Holy Spirit” or to use an Eastern phrase for this word, kundalini. Kundalini, also known as “the serpent power,” is said to be an energetic force that awakens from the base of the spine and rises up the spine until it enters into the “cave” or “manger” within the brain and head center. Bailey says that the First Initiation typically involves a “spontaneous awakening of the centers in their right geometrical progression” Esoteric Healing, p. 344. As the kundalini rises (or the Holy Spirit enters the body) phenomena can include shaking, tremors, a jumping sensation, a feeling of liquid energy or light streaming up the spine, and more.
The point here is those going through the First Initiation may experience related phenomena that can be exhilarating, confusing, or even terrifying depending on whether they have an understanding of what is happening to them or not, or if they have a proper support system or lack one to help them get through it. Thankfully the movement started by Stansilov Grof looking at Spiritual Emergence vs Spiritual Emergency has helped more and more people gain greater insights along these lines. Of course not everyone going through the First Initiation may have phenomena involved. But, still it would be helpful to start to index some of the phenomena likely to go along with this First Initiation experience. For example, think of the Shakers “shaking,” Quakers “quaking”, and mystics seeing visions of Christ, Buddha, Krishna, Mary and so forth. Are these kinds of experiences connected to the First Initiation somehow? After all, Saul had a vision of Jesus and become Paul. How many other mystics in all the worlds religious traditions have had similar phenomena that indicate that the Soul (Christ, Krishna) is being born? And, as we come to understand this phenomena better, how can we increasingly create safe spaces and metaphorically speaking provide “initiation midwives” to help protect and nurture people going through these kind of experiences?
MEANING OF THE CAVE & MANGER
Again in the Christian version of the First Initiation we are told that the Christ child is born within a cave or stable, inside a manger. We have also just learned that when this birth happens (making one born again or “twice-born”), it is registered in the brain awareness. Metaphorically speaking then, what does this “cave or manger” really stand for? For those who understand what is known as “esoteric anatomy” (or the correlations between spiritual expansions of consciousness and the associations with the physical body,) the cave is well known as being associated with the cavity within the brain illustrated below by the large black circle.
Within this brain cavity, or “cave,” there are ventricles filled with fluid. Sitting within this fluid are the main master glands that direct many important activities in our lives including the hypothalamus gland, the pituitary gland and most importantly for our study here, the pineal gland. The optic nerve is also within this region. And, the brain stem (that connects to what is known esoterically as the “mouth of God” — or the medulla oblongata) connects here as well.
If you look closely you will also notice a reference to this cave, or brain cavity, in ancient Egypiant literature in what is known as the Eye of Horus. Typically considered to a representation of the “eye of a falcon” (a bird much like the Christian dove), if you notice carefully you see how the outlines of this Egyptian eye seem to match up with major components of the “cave” including how the line that drops down and curls heads into the direction of the cerebellum where the medulla oblongota (also known as the alta major center) lies. And, you see how the little triangle or (tear drop) of the eye dips into where the pituitary gland resides.
ECSTATIC UNION & THE PITUITARY GLAND
Modern science and medicine still have a lot to learn about the function of these various glands, but already some significant information has been discovered. To begin with the pituitary gland is known in esoteric anatomy as the main gland responsible for coordinating the overall personality. As we have seen in the Bailey model, the Technique of Integration in its various stages (Integration, Alignment, Crisis, Light) help the person to become an Integrated Personality, Aspirant, Probationer Disciple, and Chela in the Light. And, the activities of the pituitary gland are connected to this Technique of Integration, that takes one through both Group Six and Group Seven in the Bailey model. As for modern medicine’s understanding of this pituitary gland they report that, “The pituitary gland releases hormones into the blood stream. In turn these hormones help regulate the functions of other endocrine glands, especially the thyroid gland, the sex hormones associated with the reproductive organs, and the adrenal glands.”
For those familiar with esoteric anatomy they also know that the adrenal glands are connected to the base of the spine center (also associated with kundalini), the sex drive is associated with the sacral center, and the thyroid gland is connected to the throat center. This is interesting because Bailey states that during the First Initiation the transfer between the sacral to the throat center is especially emphasized. (See Rays and Initiations, p. 572). This can cause the sex drive to temporarily go into overdrive and may explain why so much mystical literature has sexual overtones (experiences of rapture or ecstasy for example), or talk about being visited by the “Beloved” and so forth. The adrenal glands are helping to release energy to stimulate the sex organs ideally to push the energy upwards so that a higher form of creativity (connected to the thyroid gland) can be released. However, until the third stage of the First Initiation (that of assimilation) is gone through, the energy may over-stimulate the sexual organs, causing great difficulty. One way to cope with this transfer is to release the tension upwards into some sort of creative activity (poems, songs, art, dance) until the shift up to the throat center is complete.
ANGELS, THE STAR & THE PINEAL GLAND
Another major gland found within the “cave” or brain cavity, is the pineal gland. Esoteric anatomists know that the pineal gland is connected to the what might seem like the bizarre worship of the pine cone found since ancient Roman times. In fact, the word pineal and the word pine are connected. Pine-al might even be said to mean “of the pine.” A modern example of this pine cone worship is found in the Fontana della Pigna (the fountain of the pine cone) found in vast niche in the wall of the Vatican facing the Cortile della Pigna, located in Vatican City in Rome, Italy.
Modern medical scientists (and maybe even even a few in ancient times) know that the pineal gland, when activated is both photoreceptive (emits light) and potentially hallucinogenic causing someone to see visions or hear voices. The optic nerve being associated within this area also helps to produce the tendency to see visions. What kinds of visions are seen depends on the social and religious conditioning of the person. Christians are more likely to see Mary or Jesus. Buddhists may see the Buddha. Hindus may see Rama, Krishna or Shiva. In fact, if we go back to the ancient Jewish story of Moses who saw his “burning bush” we find someone seeing a plant, and not a human, in the symbolism. Interestingly enough to me this burning bush looks a lot like that pine cone (which you could also view as a bush), that is “lit up,” or “on fire,” referring perhaps again to the pineal gland being stimulated.
Another reference to the pineal gland and the “cave” is that of a “star shining forth.” This brings us back to the Christian story where we have “angels and a star appear in the heavens.” Go back to the pine cone statue picture and notice how two birds (peacocks) surround the pine cone like a couple of angel wings. These wings are reminiscent of the Ark of the Covenant. For those who don’t know the story, the “burning bush” (activated pineal gland?), dictated to Moses the Ten Commandments, which became the foundational rules regarding how those of the Jewish (and later Christian and Muslim faiths) were supposed to live.
This Ark of the Covenant may or may not have been real. But one thing we might infer is that it may very well have been symbolic of the “manger within the cave.”. Once you enter the cave and release the power of the glands within the manger, you are able to access its stored sacred contents (revelations). An atomic explosion of sorts also takes place as these visions help one to enter into the “Promised Land,” which is where your consciousness expands to take in a new kingdom beyond the human kingdom, a kingdom Bailey calls the “fifth kingdom of conscious souls.” Having expanded your consciousness into this new way of Being you cannot help but abide by the “commandments,” not because someone says you must (Groups Three, Four, Five and Six act this way), but because now there is simply no other way you can conceive of living (Group Seven).
Along these lines I am connecting one more symbol, a more modern one, that of the “star” associated with Self Realization Fellowship (SRF). Self Realization Fellowship was founded by Paramahansa Yogananda, a yogi, who came to the United States in 2019 to help bring yoga to the West. Methods for seeing this “star” is a part of their teachings, which in many ways is connected to what happens when the third eye opens (which again in the Egyptian tradition is the eye of Horus).
Finally, I would like to put one more symbol here, this one is from the Masonic tradition and is found on the back of the dollar bill in the United States. This is the “Eye of Providence” or the “Eye of God” so to speak. Here we see an “eye” hovering above, or perhaps being lifted out of (or born out of) a pyramid. The pyramid in many ways represents the foundation of the Integrated Personality that has been laid. Once this is done in the right way through the proper purification techniques that help to build a moral and sound character (making the person pure or “virginal”), the “eye” (Christ child, Soul consciousness) can be born. And again that eye radiates like a star so to speak.
Switching again to another religion, that of Islam, we see how Mohammad was likewise in a cave and received a visit from an angel (Gabriel) who asked him to “recite” the versus of the Koran. Or, we can jump to Joseph Smith (notice the name “Joseph” there) and see how he fathered in the new religion of Mormonism, when a different angel visited him, Moroni, who gave him a series of “golden plates” (like the golden tablets of Moses), that held within them what would become the Book of Mormon published in 1830. In summary, as we tie a lot of this symbolism together, we are seeing then when the foundation is laid, the cave can be entered. There the “Christ child will be born in the manger.” When the child is born a “star shines forth” and “angels can be seen in the heavens.” Later, “three kings” follow this “star” and confer three gifts to the new born infant of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Only now as I convey the basics of the Christian story again, I hope you are finally seeing its deeper meaning.
As we are seeing from some of the ancient symbolism, it may have been the case that those in ancient times understood the gland associations with the mystical phenomena associated with the First Initiation. Regardless of whether they factually knew about the glands and the phenomena associated with them, we see how religious traditions around the globe tended to respect the mystical phenomena that took place and considered it sacred. True, some of this may have been due to the fact that those in Groups Three, Four, and Five lacked enough mental development and discernment to look more objectively and even skeptically at the phenomena itself and what was really going on with it, and whether or not the creative results of such phenomena had real value or not. They tended to simply swallow it all and deify it without much thought.
When we come to Group Six we see something else occurring. If you remember Group Six is comprised of those who are Integrated Personalities who tend to become secular materialists at first, and then Aspirants later on. Because those in Group Six possess a greater level of mind and tend to be secular materialists, they tend to go to the opposite extreme of those in Groups Three, Four, and Five. Now mystical phenomena is no longer seen as mysterious and needing to be worshiped. It is now viewed as pathological. Understanding better the phenomena of the brain those in Group Six tend to want to reduce all spiritual and religious experiences as simply manufacturing’s of the brain.
Mystical experiences are now seen as the brain malfunctioning where the chemicals of the brain and the associated glands that emit the chemicals are just out of wack. Now those having mystical phenomena are not enlightened, they are schizophrenic or bipolar perhaps. All you need to do is to give them a pill to balance out the noradrenaline (norepinephrine), serotonin, and dopamine that causes people to act “insane” and get them back to “normal.” Mystical experiences are now not only laughed at, they are pathologized. Again Stanslov Grof was attempting to work with this problem by creating criterion to help see if the person was going through a spiritual emergence (where the mystical phenomena was taking them to a higher level of consciousness), or a spiritual emergency (where the mystical phenomena was causing a breakdown in consciousness regressing the person back down to maybe even Group Two or One type of behaviors). Regarding a spiritual emergency it most likely has happened using Bailey’s words because the Integrated Personality stage was not reached helping the person build the right foundation to handle the phenomena correctly. Or, perhaps the rules for initiation that Bailey lays down (similar to the Ten Commandments that Moses laid down in ancient times), were not followed sufficiently enough to create enough purity to allow for a “virgin” (or easier) birth.
Finally, it is important to spend a moment on how mystical phenomena will be handled by the Little Chela (who goes through the Aspirant stage of Group Six and the Probationary Disciple stage of Group Seven). To become a Little Chela one has to have passed through the stage of the Integrated Personality. These people tend to possess more mental capacity. Therefore when they go through mystical phenomena (or enlightenment like “state” experiences—to use an Integral term), they tend to be less likely to simply reduce it back down to it being just a chemical brain blip, or to just discount the mystical phenomena as pathological. Rather, they tend to want to understand these experiences at a deeper level by looking at both the associated neurological brain correspondences and the meaning of the mystical phenomena itself. Because Little Chelas and also Chelas in the Light are able to look at both, they are more likely to view the brain as simply the “television” that conveys the impressions coming from the “broadcaster” who is sending signals into the brain. In short, they know for a fact that there is a broadcaster (i.e. Soul) that comes from beyond the brain and works through it. And, they are no longer inclined to believe in the reductionist materialistic view of those in Group Six who want to discount mystical phenomena as just the pathological malfunction of the brain.
TYPES OF MYSTICAL PHENOMENA
To begin with in the Alice Bailey model there was never an emphasis on what the Integral movement calls “states vs stages.” That is because the Bailey model was always primarily a system that outlined stages of spiritual growth and development. “State” experiences of mystical phenomena were recognized as occurring. , And, Bailey admits that these “state” experiences can happen within all of her Ten Groups. In the previous chapters in this book I have shared some of Bailey’s views on state experiences and how they can aid or hinder spiritual growth at various stage levels. Shortly, when we get to the third stage of the First Initiation (that of assimilation), you will be able to more clearly see if “state experiences” or mystical phenomena was in fact connected to the First Initiation or not. For now, before we leave this section on the First Initiation and the Expansion stage, I would like to briefly share what some “state experiences” look like.
We have already seen that they can involve having visions, seeing angels or spiritual teachers. They can also include feelings of ecstasy or rapture that can have sexualized overtones. They may result in a state of hyper-arousal where the person has trouble sleeping or becomes somewhat manic in their behavior. Experiences of light and abstract images may take place. When they sleep they may have more vivid or even lucid dreams. Hearing voices may be involved. These voices may be only like intuitive thoughts in one’s head, or they may actually be heard as if someone is speaking out loud. They may also start to speak in tongues to use a Christian phrase.
People may also experience shaking, quaking or a movement of energy throughout their bodies. They may also feel that their consciousness is dissolving and extending throughout space. Feelings of euphoria, love and a sense of oneness with everyone and everything may occur. They may feel as if they leave their bodies much as people who have near death experiences (NDE’s) report. Their ability to comprehend and understand various subject matters may accelerate as they now have a more heightened intuition. Like those with NDE experiences they may sense the presence of others who are not there, like loved ones who have crossed over. Their sense of time and space may also be altered. They may have visions of past lives, believe that they can see farther into the future, or feel as if they have entered into a timeless state where in a sense no time and even space exists. Finally, they may go into various samadhi like states, including the samadhi experience that makes them look as if they are in a catatonic stupor.
Reviewing this short list it is easy to see why those in Group Six may consider people going through the First Initiation to be crazy and want to medicate them. Or, you can see why those in Groups Three, Four, and Five may be in awe of those experiencing mystical phenomena and make saints or gurus out of them. Or, on the flip side those in Groups Three, Four and Five may be afraid of them and consider their experiences to be demonic. As for those in Group Seven, Aspirants and Probationer Disciples may over-estimate the true spiritual status of those (Chelas in the Light) going through the First Initiation. Like those in Groups Three, Four and Five those in Group Seven may attempt to turn those going through the First Initiation into their spiritual gurus. Though if someone is truly going through the First Initiation there will be a reticence or even avoidance of assuming such a role. How then do we truly understand whether someone is going through the First Initiation or not? Bailey has an answer and we will see learn more about this in the next section to come when we go into the third phase of the initiation process, Assimilation.
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