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The Initiate in the Dark Cycle
By Cyril Scott
Samuel Weiser, Inc.Copyright © 1991 The estate of Cyril Scott
All rights reserved.
THE DEVA INITIATE
Shortly after the publication of The Initiate in the New World, I found myself constrained to send an S.O.S. in the shape of a letter to my Guru, Justin Moreward Haig. It was not an easy letter to write, because, needless to say, I knew he was not omniscient; he could not raise the dead, nor, from his house in Boston thousands of miles away, make the unseen perceptible to one who had lost the power to see. For my wife, owing, we imagine, to a series of operations, had been deprived of the clairvoyance which had made psychic communication with the Master possible. This deprivation had caused her much unhappiness, which was not alleviated till we came into contact with Chris, who, by means of her own transcendental gifts, was able to illuminate the path Viola could no longer see for herself.
And now Chris was dead, and Viola plunged into even greater darkness than before, since to her sense of loss was added the sorrow of being debarred from using that very faculty which alone could have bridged the gulf between herself and her beloved friend.
Chris had been no ordinary friend; she had possessed unique qualities which set her apart from the ruck of average human beings. More of the other world than of this, yet ever ready with her amazing insight and sympathy to lessen its sufferings, she had become the pivot round which our lives for several years had revolved. Her death left Viola, who had an exceptionally strong link with her, and who has followed the path of love rather than that of wisdom, inwardly heartbroken. Emotional by temperament more than philosophical, she heroically tried to suppress her grief as inconsistent with occult ideals, but only ended in making matters worse.
And so in the hope of obtaining some advice wherewith to assuage her suffering, I resolved to send that S.O.S. to my Guru. Little did I think that the consequences ensuing from so simple a resolve would provide sufficient material for a large portion of this third book.
* * *
As I sit writing these first few pages, my memory goes back to that apparently insignificant, middle-aged little woman who, before she passed over, played so important a part in our occult lives, and transmitted to those few capable of receiving it such a wealth of knowledge from the Masters of Wisdom. I can still picture her with her silvery white hair and contrastingly young face, not beautiful as regards feature, but rendered beautiful none the less by an expression of spiritual dulcitude. I picture her in her rather dilapidated guest-house into which drifted human wreckage of all descriptions, derelicts broken and battered in body and mind—derelicts certain not only of welcome, but in most cases of healing for their particular ill. They clamoured for her at all hours of the day; never had she a moment to herself. I see her always in a hurry, attempting the proverbial impossibility of being everywhere at once, often exhausted and almost ceaselessly tormented by neuralgia, yet always sweet-tempered and equable, now soothing away somebody else's headache with her strangely magnetic touch, now consoling some girl in the throes of an unhappy love-affair; at one moment solving an abstruse metaphysical problem for a painstaking student of philosophy, the next attempting to adjust the differences between some ill-assorted married couple. Even now I still continue to marvel at the almost instantaneous adaptations she was able to make to their varied and conflicting claims.
A strange rambling house it was, with its heterogeneous assortment of patients. Christabel Portman and her husband seemed incapable of closing their hospitable doors to people of whatsoever social type or standing: the measure of their need was their sole passport for admittance; soap-manufacturers from the North, aristocrats both English and foreign, tired little school-teachers, Indian civil servants, French, Dutch, Syrians—all these and many more at one time or another had assembled and sojourned at "The Pines," that retreat which the Portmans, in conjunction with a doctor, had run for the treatment of baffling psychological complaints. Chris, with her wonderful powers, not only diagnosed the complaint, but was psychically impressed with the most suitable means to cure it. But the ill she was best at curing, as Viola always declared, was that called "heartache."...
A number of the people were theosophists, recommended there by fellowtheosophists ; others had come at the suggestion of some unconventional physician, only to find themselves puzzled and sometimes not a little shocked at being thrown amongst such a peculiarly minded crowd.
Well do I recall the incongruous snatches of conversation I so often heard at the crowded dinner-table, as the voice of one person or another predominated over the general clamour, or a sudden piano momentarily brought a few consecutive sentences into high relief.
"I suppose you know, Mr. Smith, that all your trouble is Karmic ..." from an earnest and humourless spinster.
"Never 'aving coom across that word in Ma-anchester"— stolidly sarcastic from Mr. Smith — "Ah couldn't say as it wasn't. But Dr. 'Odges says it's constipa-ation."
"No, no, you don't understand—does he, Mrs. Portman?"
"Mais pardon, Madame ..." and the Frenchman's voice pierced the conversational orchestra, nasally, like a muted trumpet, "ze Absolu' can in no circomstonce evair come into manifestation—voyons, ça n'est pas logique ça!"
"But I've always understood from the books——"
"You can please yourselves, of course," though this Yorkshire woman did not look as if she meant it, "but give me the good old story of Jesus Christ and the Christian religion."
"None of us are denying the Christian religion, Mrs. Satterthwaite."
"Wonderful man, Sir Thomas—now he really manifests brotherhood."
"How that woman does love a title ..." a whispered remark from my neighbour.
"Is the permanent atom always in the throat-centre, Mrs. Portman?"
"Chris dear, I had such a curious dream—could it have been a memory of a past incarnation?"
"So queer—my toes always tingle when I meditate; do you think it means—"
"This year, next year, sometime, never——" But this was only someone earnestly counting her plum-stones.
And there at the head of the table sat Chris, always the final court of appeal, at one moment trying not to be convulsed with laughter, at another attempting to pour oil on troubled waters and produce a semblance of harmony amidst the clash of so many diverse personalities.
* * *
And now my memory harks back to another and very different scene: Chris in her large and romantic garden with its lawns and winding paths, its lily-pond, its pergolas and rose-hung arbours; Chris, discoursing on high metaphysics to a small circle of men, while they listened impressed and enthralled. Because she never laid herself out to impress her listeners, she never gave them the irksome feeling that she was "holding forth." Moreover, if she set her mind to it and "tuned herself in," she could give most correct and erudite discourses on subjects about which she had previously known nothing. I remember an occasion on which somebody challenged her to deliver a little lecture on Japanese art; she not only complied, but came off with flying colours.
Although all were agreed that "Mrs. Portman was a wonderful woman," even the theosophists, with very few exceptions, did not suspect how close was her link with those Masters of Wisdom they had been taught to revere. And had they been told, some of them would not have believed. Like Madame Blavatsky of mixed fame, Chris, from her earliest childhood, had clairvoyantly seen that impressive and love-radiating Being she later on came to know as one of the Himalayan Masters—her own special Guru. I remember her telling me one day as we sat alone together in a secluded part of the garden, how, when her body was asleep, she used to transport herself to His house in Shigatse, and with child-like rapture listen to Him improvising on the organ He had had built up there. For Master Koot Hoomi takes an especial interest in music, and endeavours to inspire all those who, in varying degrees, are receptive to His influence.
Chris had a genius for improvisation herself. She could hear the super-earthly music of the devas, and, allowing for the limitations of the piano, translate it into earthly sound. It seemed strange, in a sense, that one so gifted should have been doomed to spend her life in this atmosphere of sickness and mental aberration from which I always felt that her sensitive nature inwardly shrank.
"Oh, if only I could have been a musician!" she would sometimes rather wistfully exclaim; then, with her funny little smile: "Ah, well, it just wasn't meant to be ..." and as if to banish the thought, she would run off to cheer up one or other of the many patients; when, a little later, she flitted past me again on some further errand of mercy, she flung over her shoulder: "Don't go imagining I don't love my work for my lame dogs!"
"The more lame they are, the more you seem to love them," I retorted. Her laugh, receding in the distance, answered me ...
* * *
One day I told Chris about my Guru, J. M. H., though I did not mention his name.
"How frightfully interesting!" she exclaimed, all enthusiasm; and then that faraway look came into her eyes which meant that she was "sensing up" things.
In a moment or two she smiled to herself—a whimsical, enigmatic smile.
"Now look here, Chris," I said, "you're not going to keep all that to yourself. Strikes me, you probably know more about my Master than I do. Come along, out with it!"
She laughed heartily. "How you do amuse me!"
"Thank goodness for that; but I'm waiting to hear what you know about my Master."
"Oh, not much; only that his particular work seems to be in connection with preparing bodies for the new sub-race."
"There you are!" I exclaimed, "I never knew that."
"Oh, didn't you?" She was, or pretended to be, surprised.
"Well, how should I? He never told me. I wonder why?"
"The ways of Masters are mysterious," she said. "Perhaps he thought it of no importance."
"Or perhaps he didn't want me to know, and you've gone and let the cat out of the bag," I teased her.
"He doesn't mind whether you know or not; if he did, I shouldn't have told you."
"All right, then, please tell me some more!"
"All these physiological Yoga practices he teaches——"
"Well, what about them?"
"They're for the purpose of making the body extra strong and controlled, as well as extra sensitive. That's what the new Race has got to be."
"You mean that when his pupils have children, they'll inherit all that?"
"Well, of course."
"And why specially in America?"
"Because there are going to be a great many sixth sub-race bodies over there. But not only there. Your Guru, for the time being, has undertaken to do that work for the Americans in this particular cycle."
"This is getting interesting. Let's hear some more." But she was called away to deal with somebody in an epileptic seizure. Always an interruption of one sort or another.
* * *
I remember there were some curious people who used occasionally to turn up at "The Pines," ostensibly because they were feeling a bit "off colour," but in reality because they wanted confirmation of their own psychic impressions, or merely wished to talk about them to Chris. One well-meaning but deluded soul was convinced that she was in frequent communication with the Virgin Mary. On one occasion she even asked Chris to go down on her knees, as the Madonna was alleged to be present.... But unfortunately all Chris could see was a mischievous spook, thoroughly enjoying the sport of masquerading as that exalted Being; and thus found herself faced with the ticklish task of conveying to the good lady that her visions arose mostly from her own subconscious mind, or at any rate that what she saw was not quite what she imagined, and that the Virgin Mary was in no sense involved ...
I remember another woman, stout and full-blooded, who insisted that she got "Teachings" from Beings of quite unimaginable altitude. These Beings, however, proved to be strangely accommodating. The doctor had forbidden her, for her health's sake, to indulge a taste for port wine, but after abstaining for a few days, she impressively informed us all —and the doctor—that her "Teachers" had overruled his injunctions! Again Chris had to step in ...
She did not of course deny that the clairvoyance of such women as these was occasionally genuine. It was just the trouble, as she pointed out, that, like all untrained clairvoyants, they could not sift the tares from the wheat, nor prevent their "sensings" and "seeings" from being coloured by their own personal desires. To make people of this type more self-critical without discouraging them too much, was a far from easy, though quite a large part of her work.
* * *
I could go on multiplying these memories of Christabel Portman, but to do so would be to fill the pages of a whole book. Yet even this sketchy portrayal of her, such as it is, has been no mere literary self-indulgence: it has been a prelude to that most vivid of all memories—that Sunday morning when she came to me and said: "The Master has offered to speak to you."
* * *
In a chair alone by the fire in the little oak-panelled room set aside for meditation, sat Chris; but the ineffable smile with which she greeted me was not hers, and although the voice was hers, the inflections and choice of words were different.
Her lips spoke the words gently and lovingly: "Greetings, my son ..." and her hand held mine for a moment before motioning me to be seated—with a gesture that was also not hers.
And then I realized that she had done what only initiates of an advanced degree can do—she had consciously stepped aside, and temporarily yielded up her body to her Master.
Would that I were permitted to write of all that He said on that and other occasions when He did me the honour of speaking to me, but He has enjoined silence. For much that He imparted was of a private nature, and much that He taught me may not yet be revealed in a book. Yet of His love, His tolerance, His modesty, His wealth of language, His power to elucidate difficult problems or expound occult truths in a few simple words and a poetic simile—of these I feel impelled to speak. Despite His imposing intellect and the spirituality which radiated from Him, He seemed so endearingly human. There was none of that patronizing element of looking down from superior heights upon the childish frailties of us poor unevolved mortals. Many a time I was constrained to lament over my failures, but instead of reproaching me, He reassured and comforted me by conceding that the tasks which had been set were too difficult to be accomplished in a moment of time. As long as He saw that His pupils were really trying their best to succeed, He never reproached them; only when they were indifferent or thoughtless did He manifest signs of displeasure.
I used to come away from those interviews refreshed and exalted in body and spirit, and with such a keenness of memory that even now I can recollect almost every word He spoke.
* * *
And then Chris died, and these soul-inspiring interviews came to an end.
Perpetually surrounded by patients who made ceaseless demands upon her; always giving out and getting scarcely anything back; expending more and more of her diminishing strength on her husband who, for years, had worked under the disabilities of an incurable malady, she herself contracted a painful and fatal disease. People had come to depend on her too much, and for the sake of their spiritual development, as well as for reasons connected with her own evolution, it was deemed best that she should be withdrawn.
Because of love, she had all her life sacrificed herself to the needs of others, as thousands of years before she had sacrificed herself to come from the free and joyous planes of the deva-kingdom to the troubled and restricted planes of earth. Although to our limited vision she was a human being, to those who could see, she was still a deva in spirit, and beloved of the devas as much as she loved them. And because of that love, the healing devas guided her hands when she touched the sick; the sound devas inspired her when she touched the piano; even the little nature-spirits, busy among the flowers, mingled their joyousness with that joyousness of hers, which ever radiated on all around.
Excerpted from The Initiate in the Dark Cycle by Cyril Scott. Copyright © 1991 The estate of Cyril Scott. Excerpted by permission of Samuel Weiser, Inc..
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