We have all no doubt heard of the terrible physical tests applied in Egyptian Initiations and are aware that violence amounting to torture was used in the Ancient Mysteries before the Neophyte was considered fit to take the first steps in his Ascent of the Mountain of God.
Though the methods of our Order are different the Spirit is the same, and unless we have learned indifference to physical suffering, and have become conscious of a Strong WiU, a will which fears nothing fate can do to us, we can never receive a real Initiation.
These ceremonies in the lower grades of Our Order are principally active in disciplining our minds; they lead us to analyse and understand ourselves. They deal with the Four states of Matter, the Four Elements of the Ancients which with their synthesis answer to the five Senses. Our Senses are the paths through which our Consciousness approaches the central power which for want of a more accurate word I will call the Will.
It is the object of our lives as initiates to bring this Will to such a state of perfection, strength, and wisdom, that instead of being the plaything of fate and finding our calculations entirely upset by trivial material circumstances, we build within ourselves a fortress of strength to which we can retire in time of need.
The natural Man is a chaotic mass of contradictory forces. In the higher grades of the First Order, (by presenting a perfectly balanced series of symbols to the senses) we endeavour to impress upon the imagination of the initiates, the forms under which they can obtain perfection and work in harmony with the world force.
In the 0° =00 Ceremony the principles most insisted on are Secrecy and Brotherly Love. Apart entirely from the practical necessity for secrecy in our Order, it is the fact that Silence is in itself a tremendous aid in the search for Occult powers. In darkness and stillness the Archetypal forms are conceived and the forces of nature germinated. If we study the effects of calm concentration we shall find that in silence, thoughts which are above human consciousness clothe themselves with symbolism and present things to our imagination, which cannot be told in words.
The more thought and concentration of purpose that precedes an action, the more effective and effectual it will be. Again in talking on subjects such as these, there is always a terrible danger of personal influence or obsession coming into action. The Eagle does not learn to fly from the domestic fowl ‘nor does the Lion use his strength like the horse’, and although knowledge is to be gained from every available source the Opinion of others should receive the very smallest attention from the true student of Life.
Free yourselves from your environments. Believe nothing without weighing and considering it for yourselves; what is true for one of us, may be utterly false for another. The God who will judge you at the day of reckoning is the God who is within you now; the man or woman who would lead you this way or that, will not be there then to take the responsibility off your shoulders.
‘The old beauty is no longer beautiful; the new truth is no longer true,’ is the eternal cry of a developing and really vitalised life. Our civilisation has passed through the First Empire of pagan sensualism; and the Second Empire of mistaken sacrifice, of giving up our own consciousness, our own power of judging, our own independence, our own courage. And the Third Empire is awaiting those of us who can see—that not only in Olympus, not only nailed to the Cross,—but in ourselves is God. For such of us, the bridge between flesh and spirit is built; for such among us hold the Keys of life and death.
In this connection I may mention that the 00 =00 of the Grade of Neophyte has a deep significance as a symbol; a o means nothing to the world—to the initiate in the form of a circle it means all, and the aspiration of the Neophyte should be ‘In myself I am nothing, in Thee I am all; Oh bring me to that self, which is in Thee’.
Having so far considered some of the thoughts that the practice of silence may bring you let us proceed to the subject of brotherly love.
We must of course take the word, as we take all higher teaching, as a symbol, and translate it for ourselves into a higher plane.—Let me begin by saying that any love for a person as an individual is by no means a Hermetic virtue; it simply means that the personalities are harmonious; we are born under certain influences, and with certain attractions and repulsions, and, just like the notes in the musical scale some of us agree, some disagree. We cannot overcome these likes and dislikes; even if we could, it would not be advisable to do so. If in Nature, a plant were to persist in growing in soil unsuited to it, neither the plant nor the soil would be benefited. The plant would dwindle, and probably die, the soil would be impoverished to no good end.
Therefore brotherly love does not imply seeking, or remaining in the society of those to whom we have an involuntary natural repulsion. But it does mean this, that we should learn to look at people’s actions from their point of view, that we should sympathise with and make allowances for their temptations. I would then define Hermetic or Brotherly Love as the capacity of understanding another’s motives and sympathising with his weaknesses, and remember—that it is generally the unhappy who sin.
A crime, a falsehood, a meanness often springs from a vague terror of our fellows. We distrust them and ourselves.
It is the down-trodden and the weak whom we have to fear; and it is by offering them sympathy and doing what we can to give them courage, that we can overcome evil.
But in practising Hermetic Love, above all things conquer that terrible sting of love—jealousy. The jealousy of the benefactor, the jealousy of the lover, or the friend, are alike hateful and degrading passions. Jealousy is deeply rooted in human nature nourished by custom, even elevated to a virtue under the pretence of fidelity.
To see human nature at its very worst you have only to listen to the ravings and threats of a person who considers his monopoly of some other person’s affection is infringed. This kind of maniacal passion is the outcome of the egotism á deux, which has been so fostered by romance.
But it is natural to wish to help and be necessary to those we love, and when we find others just as necessary or helpful, to feel bitterly that our ‘occupation’ is gone; but these regrets will be impossible to us when we can live in the world realising from day to day more fully that the highest and best principle within us is the Divine Light which surrounds us, and which, in a more or less manifested condition, is also in others. The vehicle may be disagreeable to us, the personality of another may be antipathetic, but latent light is there all the same, and it is that which makes us all brothers. Each individual must arrive at the consciousness of Light in his own way; and all we can do for each other is to point out that the straight and narrow path is within each of us. No man flies too high with his own wings; but if we try to force another to attempt more than his strength warrants, his inevitable fall will lie at our door.
This is our duty towards our neighbours; our duty towards God, is our duty towards ourselves; for God is identical with our highest genius and is manifested in a strong, wise, will freed from the rule of blind instinct.
He is the Voice of Silence,
The Preparer of the Pathway,
The Rescuer unto the Light.