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Has there ever before been such a dangerous, exciting and eventful period in world history as that which we are passing through today?
The collective achievements of our scientists beggar the imagination. So does the collective suffering of humanity at this time. Will it all prove to be birth-throes from which a new step forward in civilisation will emerge, the dawning of a new and better age? It seems inevitable that something different must and will evolve from the seething, purging maelstrom in which humanity is involving itself. Either annihilation or regeneration!
There are many who fear that the world is moving head-long towards self-destruction, through violence, cruelty and stupidity. Perhaps they do not take into account human reaction, the swing of the pendulum. If cruelty had led to more cruelty, humanity would have become extinct many generations ago. If it had been possible to crush out love, joy of life, religious fervour, patience and hope from the human heart, we should have seen this accomplished in several epochs in history. Evil has had every possible chance for success—it has even sat upon the thrones of the earth, in omnipotence.
Yet humanity goes patiently forward. It suffers every kind of distraction: the softening effect of luxury; the degenerating effect of poverty; the darkness of ignorance; mistaken leaderships; the greedy oppression of profiteers; the cruelty of fanatics; the muddling confusions brought about by all these; and the final obscenity of war.
Any one of these conditions would have rendered a species of animals extinct in a fairly short time. Yet man still goes on. He struggles through it all, gaining ground imperceptibly, steadily. His standards are shifting ever so gently towards the acceptance of humanity as one common brotherhood. The instinct of charity stretches from the home right round the world. Barriers of race, religion and of class are being dissolved by all those who are sufficiently free from tyranny and tyrannical influence to do as they choose, while the tyranny which imposes unfair and unequal racial conditions is also under attack.
There are signs everywhere of efforts to be free from the ruts, inhibitions and conventions in which people used to be so content to vegetate. Many are quietly busy with constructive humanitarian work. Many others are suffering, fighting and dying for things which they are told are right and good. Between these two, the fighters and the servers, the great unheeding masses strive blindly for their own existence, for comfort and for amusement. Yet they too are roused today by the crescendo of the times. Humanity is being stirred to its depths by an unusual urge to self-expression. They strike, they march, they revolt, all around the globe.
What does it all mean? To what is it all tending? Can it be just chance, coincidence, which is turning the tune of life into a roar, and the rhythms of progress into a stampede?
Is humanity going to be confounded and swallowed up in the chaos of its own muddles? Is self-slaughter through war, and self-starvation through economic greeds, to be the final answer to man-made civilisation? The apparent possibility of this is spreading dread among countless helpless people.
Not, however, among all! Interspersed within the public there are many quiet ones, who say little, and do not appear to do any startling things either. But they hold and guard within themselves a knowledge and a vision giving them apparently the clue to much which is happening. They act as a yeast among their fellow men, keeping them, by a subtle influence, from sinking into despair. They are usually students, under some form, of a body of teachings which is sometimes known as the Ageless or Ancient Wisdom, and which has survived throughout the long reaches of history.
Such people believe that we are in the throes of transition from a long Dark Age into a coming New Age which shall see a glorious unfolding and consummation of the latent flower of spirit and wisdom within man and within our earth. They believe that the divine discontent, awakening widespread among men today, is tuning them rapidly up to the point where they will awaken within themselves new qualities, new senses and quite new ambitions. They believe that the great collective being, humanity, is moving rapidly towards a further stage in its development; that it is soon to bring to birth a part of its consciousness hitherto dormant and unknown; and that the reward of this long weary pregnancy and these convulsive birth-throes will be to have the 'Christ-child', the true spiritual faculty, as a part of our conscious heritage here on earth.
This great change and advancement in development has always been known as Initiation, by those who were the guardians of the Ageless Wisdom. In my former book The Finding of the Third Eye the barest outline of the history and teachings of the Ancient Wisdom was given. This includes the Plan of Creation and of Evolution on this planet, and in the Universe, and the fundamental spiritual laws, such as the laws of Reincarnation and Karma, of Cause and Effect. The subject is a vast one. It was developed in enormous tomes, commentaries, and archives in many parts of the world. This literature was in the care of the few intelligentsia, mostly the priesthood. The knowledge of its existence was the greatest thing in the lives of all early civilisations. During successive wars and invasions the archives were destroyed or hidden. Humanity moved forwards into a long Dark Age, during which bigotry and superstition veiled the shining truths. Later there came a reaction against such thraldom, which resulted in the beginnings of the scientific age. Men went to the other extreme. They refused to accept anything which could not be proved in materialistic fashion.
Both the way of superstition and bigotry, and the way of materialistic science, have proved insufficient to create a happy and successful world civilisation. Instead they have produced wars innumerable, disaster and chaos, poverty, soil erosion and disease. No one can be content with the state of the world as it is today. It is obvious, even to the unthinking person, that something very vital is lacking in our power to deal with our own lives, both singly and collectively. This lack must surely be due to ignorance, and ignorance must be due to wrong education. In order to prepare for a better type of civilisation, education must be remodelled—but in what way? What is wrong with our thinking?
Scientists say that the average intelligent man uses only a fraction of his brain-cells. Which fraction does he use, and what kind of thinking could he accomplish with the unused remainder? It seems that this muddled world will be put right only when a sufficient number of people learn how to think in such a manner as to be able to put it right! There is surely no other solution. Organised, creative and constructive thinking is, the crying need of today. But on what should it be founded ? On what foundation were the geniuses of the past produced?
The orthodox history books on which you and I were reared consisted of a long recital of unending wars, invasions, intrigues, oppressions; periods of empire-building followed by periods of luxury followed by periods of decadence and final eclipse. These histories, put out with pride by every country, seem blandly to ignore the fact that all the great religions explicitly forbid violence, oppression, injustice, theft and exploitation. In defiance of their own religions they extol warfare with all its horrors, and speak with pride of all conquests (thefts with violence). What sort of an education is this? It is surely nothing but a preparation for suicide, for 'he who lives by the sword shall perish by the sword'.
So much for orthodox history! But there is another kind of history for us to explore, a golden history which holds the key to a glorious future unfoldment. It is that which we are going to piece together in this book.
How Giant Intellects are Built
If we take a survey of the long history of man's intellectual development, certain giants tower like lighthouses above their brothers. They stand forth from all periods of history, explaining the mysteries of life, showing the way, and giving us the laws and the rules of the game of living. Though living thousands of years and thousands of miles apart there is much resemblance in their teaching, in their types of brain and their preferences and methods in study.
Let us see where the resemblances come in between most of these men, as well as many others of the same type whom we will consider later. They all had recourse to higher mathematics or symbolical numbers, by means of which they either obtained the clues to their knowledge or developed their mentalities to the point where they were able to obtain it in some other way. Pythagoras said: 'God geometrises.' He and other giant intellects have realised that the world is created upon a system of exact vibrations, patterns, symbols and dimensions, and that through a study of these numbered vibrations and rays, the symbols of the way in which they intersect to form certain shapes, and the different grades of matter which their varied frequencies precipitate, an understanding of the created world, its trend, purpose and the great Consciousness behind it can be acquired and utilised. Big intellects have always been interested in the purpose of creation, the reason for all created forms and their destiny, the mighty hidden forces, and designs which lie back of it all, and just beyond the reach of man's average physical senses. In turning their minds away from petty personal affairs to concentrate upon these larger issues they have been obliged to bring into action various latent brain-cells which are not of use for everyday habits of thought. Their brains have thus expanded and changed in character, although in a way not necessarily wholly visible to the ordinary scientist's microscope as we will explain later. The brain contains five times as many physical brain-cells as the average man brings into use. It holds also their counterparts in finer strata of matter which we call the ethers, as well as in all the seven major planes of matter which we studied before. The brain is like a wireless receiver. With practice one can tune it in to any number in the ladder of created vibrations. The brain is a perfect instrument for the use of the will and the mind. That perfect instrument exists latent in the head of every average person. But it is neither understood nor used. Most people go about with at the most a fifth of their consciousness operating. They are therefore four-fifths dead all their lives, and this is no exaggeration.
The mental factor, however, is pulling very strongly at humanity today. Its urge is felt and appreciated. Men are ready and anxious to think, to know and to experience the delights of fuller living. Never in history have there been so many words spoken, written, wirelessed—an outpouring of millions of words every day all over the world. People are striving to think and to develop their mentalities. But they do not know how to set about it. They cannot see that which stands in the way. They have no clue yet as to the true methods of obtaining mental growth. In these chapters we will point the way to those methods, which are our heritage from a rich past.
Within every average human brain lies the potentiality of greatness, of knowledge and of wisdom supreme. It is the human birthright, the divine legacy. But this hidden waiting wonder is clamped down, shuttered up, imprisoned helplessly away, smothered out of reach by vast layers of inhibitions, thought-patterns, habits, fears, sloth and other rubbish-heaps of decayed, stagnant and static thought-forms. We have studied how this can be cleared away through the age-old methods of self-analysis, meditation, concentration and aspiration. We know how to clear our decks for mental action. We will now consider the types and purposes of all those unused brain-cells, and the way in which we can bring them to life.
If we think about physical things in their outer physical aspect, as we generally do, we use our corresponding mental wireless set of physical brain-cells. If we think of the electrical forces and energies working through those physical forms we must bring into play our corresponding etheric brain-cells. If we think in terms of imaginative emotion we use brain-cells not yet visible to material science, which are built of corresponding so-called astral matter. If we think in the sphere of mental matter we must use a still subtler type of brain-cell. If we wish to think in terms of higher mathematics and cosmic designs we must be able to bring into action our most subtle mental radio set, formed of matter too delicate to visualise with our present understanding. The type of brain-cell which must be brought into use for this could not tune in to the coarse set of physical-plane vibrations with which we would deal as very ordinary persons in everyday life. It could not register or respond to such things as greedy desire, discontent, gossip and dislike, which would be foreign substance to it. But just as the seven planes of creation dwell within and permeate each other, so the various grades of brain-cells dwell within and permeate each other. The force which feeds the one does so at the expense of its higher or lower counterparts.
In this way, as one develops and uses the higher cells in investigating the realms of wisdom and understanding, their counterparts in lower-plane matter are atrophied or absorbed or transmuted by the higher vibration. The whole mentality steps up to a grander, more powerful and broader capacity.
Higher mathematics, metaphysics and philosophy have always been valued and used by those of giant intellect. They constitute the science of the invisible, the science of causes as opposed to the material science which deals with effects. Today, at the close of the long age of separatism, we find a big cleavage and many little cleavages in the world's accumulation of knowledge. The big cleavage occurs between so-called spiritual knowledge and so-called material science.
The little cleavages occur everywhere between every art—science, therapeutics, religion, sect and system.
All these barriers of words, labels, communities and habits are holding men apart from each other and from a true understanding and perspective of life and from their own inner, potent selves.
Man must learn to take the largest possible view of life, instead of, as now, the most restricted. According to the size of his mental horizon so will the size of his power be. This is a significant truth, worthy of careful consideration.
The enlarging of a man's scope can be brought about only by the breaking down of barriers, the resolving of cleavages, the fostering of inclusiveness instead of exclusiveness. In the following chapters we will begin this process of barrier-breaking, the bringing of all knowledge and all striving under one banner. We will begin by tackling the big main existing cleavage, and the smaller ones will take their place in our argument of their own accord.
The biggest cleavage of the present day is that existing in men's outlook between the so-called spiritual and the so-called material sciences. These two aspects of the one life have grown gradually apart during the past hundreds of years under the influence of the Dark Age. Now that we are coming out of that period into the Aquarian or Light Age, these two facets of life will come together in man's comprehension once more. According to the speed with which this takes place, so will be the speed of the coming into birth of the new civilisation.
Therefore the resolving of this main cleavage is to be the most important aspect of future education. When the collection of knowledge which is guarded under the label of 'scientific' is recognised to be identical in certain ways with the collection of doctrines which is guarded under the label of 'spiritual' and it is found that the two dovetail completely and combine with each other to form a perfect and illuminating whole, then we will have at last a Key-Science, a Master-Science, which will give the answer to all riddles and the clue to the attainment of man's birthright and glorious destiny.
Excerpted from The Initiation Of The World by Vera Stanley Alder. Copyright © 2000 Lucis Trust. Excerpted by permission of Samuel Weiser, Inc..
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PART ONE REVIEW OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE
2 How Giant Intellects are Built
3 The Plan of Creation
5 The Rays
6 The Hierarchy
7 The Path of Initiation
8 The Initiations of Man
9 The Psychic Centers
11 The Initiations of the World
12 The World has always Known
13 The Birth of National Genius
14 Torch-bearers of the Black Age
15 Torch-bearers of the Age of Science
16 Completing the Picture
PART TWO REVIEW OF MATERIAL SCIENCE
17 The Mineral Kingdom
18 The Vegetable Kingdom
19 The Insect World
20 The Animal Kingdom
21 The Endocrine Glands
22 The Electrical Kingdom
23 The Kingdom of Mind
25 How to Co-operate
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