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Some changes that occur in life are hard to explain, they just seem to happen because of external events which make a big impact on us. The Esoteric Work, when understood, gives the tools that help explain why things happen. My parent's household was very ordinary. They were a middle class family that held on to those conservative life principles of the late 50s and early 60s. My father was a salesman and my mother was a homemaker. They played a lot of golf and card games as they belonged to a private golf club. They became very good at poker and bridge. When I left home at twenty I already knew, though I didn't understand why at the time, that I didn't want to live the same life style as my parents. Within a year I was a vegetarian. The strange thing was that I didn't dislike meat, but the desire to eat it had vanished. I had no difficulty making the switch, and unlike some of my friends from those days, I never fell back into meat eating. I cannot say I was spiritual, but I was fascinated and spent time thinking about time and dimension. George Gamov's book, 123 Infinity, was my favorite read at the time. This book showed me that time and dimension were relative to each other, and helped me to develop some ideas concerning the relationship between past and future. I also began to think about deeper questions: whether the past was really dead and the future already formed?
I always enjoyed and shared with so many this diagram (above) where a comparison is made between linear time and vertical time. In linear time one travels, in this case on a train from New York to Los Angeles, and is presently in Chicago. New York represents the past, Chicago the present, and Los Angeles the future. When you're in Chicago, the present time, New York is just a past memory and LA a future anticipation. But if one is in a satellite a couple of hundred miles above Chicago, one can see New York, Chicago and LA at the same time. In this analogy, vertical time represents a heightened state of conscious awareness, detached from the flow of linear time, thus the now of vertical time includes past, present and future of linear time. Thus the past exists and the future also exists when one's state of consciousness transcends linear time, realizing another dimension or existence. One of the powers of the Buddha Amitabha is to cut through the smallest moment (ksana) of flowing linear time to enter into a deeper realization of reality. This idea just fascinated me and helped to explain how some people get future glimpses by momentarily touching some aspect of vertical time.
Later a buddy of mine gave me a book, which I still have, Vedanta for the Western World by Christopher Isherwood. Although it was a basic book, at the time, it was over my head but it intrigued me deeply. Not long after getting this book, following the wishes of my girlfriend, I started doing yoga, having no clue what yoga was. I persevered, even though my body was like a stiff two-by-four but eventually I began to loosen up. A couple of years later, through two other friends, I started doing Tai Chi, travelling twice a week to a small studio in the back of City Hall, on the edge of old China town. So now I was doing both Tai Chi and Yoga. Around this time, I came across another book, Raja Yoga by Swami Ramachuraka, which was a book on meditation techniques. One technique stood out in my mind, and I started to practice it sporadically. The practice was to visualize a flame, first outside you, then pull the visualization into the heart chakra. This was to stabilize the mind and counter the constant movement of thoughts. This focusing on the flame became the basis of learning about real concentration. This technique seemed to work and I found at times that the flame that I was visualizing seemed very real, and I noticed when this occurred there was this feeling or sensation of a 'silence', that seemed to surround and even touch me. This was not just an ordinary quietness, like in a quiet room.
One day at yoga class, after finishing our asanas, yoga postures, we sat in meditation posture and we chanted the OM in unison, and it seemed that we touched an inner harmony and we were all being lifted up momentarily into another aspect of reality. I felt this unity. It was an intriguing sensation. This struck me very deeply; however, at other times, when the yoga class tried sounding the OM it didn't have the same impact. Next I was introduced to the book, Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda by one of the students in the yoga class. This book, as it has for many aspirants around the world, opened my eyes to the hidden arcane secrets of the mystics and the possibilities of spiritual experience. I didn't understand much when I first read this book, but it was the thrust block that truly set me off on my spiritual quest. Like many spiritual books it should never be read once. Reading it once only gives one a taste of what's intended. Such books should be read and pondered on over several years in order to get the full flavor and digest the teaching that is given.
The yoga class I was attending arranged a weekend, two-day retreat in the country just north of the city. Amazingly about 50 people signed up to take part. Fortunately, the facilities were more than adequate and there were about 70 acres of land to walk around and enjoy the natural beauty of the place. It was early spring and most of the snow had melted and the weather was just warming up. Unknown to our yoga teacher, and most of us, an ochre robed, Indian swami, who was travelling from Los Angeles back to India, had stopped in Toronto for a couple of days and somehow had been invited to our retreat. I can't remember the actual connection but the swami only stayed for the first day of the retreat. The yoga teacher was gracious and asked the swami if he wanted to give a talk on Yoga. He complied and gave a short talk; saying that meditation was the key to yoga and that doing Hatha yoga asanas was just good for health and not of much spiritual benefit. Our yoga teacher did not like that; you could see visually how upset he was. The swami then asked if anyone wanted to meditate with him. Surprisingly, only I and five others decided to follow along and meditate with him.
The swami led us in a meditation of mandala visualization, but the main thing was I seemed to hear him in my head. The visualization became so real, bright and dynamic, as if it was alive. Then all of a sudden I heard him say, "I couldn't go any further, and the visualization stopped and just disappeared. For me, this meditation experience was amazing, I felt energized and lifted up so that my inner awareness was bright and I felt excited in a spiritual sense. This was no ordinary swami, yet after the mediation no one went to talk to him or to ask questions except me. The swami, whoever he was, when I went to talk to him seemed totally detached and distant. I knew so little; I didn't really know what to ask him. What was interesting is that the energy of this meditation seemed to stay with me for almost a month. At first, when I tried to do the meditation over again, it would almost start by itself, but as time went by it faded from me until I could not remember any of it. This experience strongly motivated me, and I started reading more and searching for meditation groups, and I still regularly attended the yoga classes. I was finally becoming more flexible.CHAPTER 2
Finding the Group
Then one day a friend of mine gave me a number of a group who had left a small advertisement at the Whole Earth health food store. I called the number and the individual who answered asked me if I had read any Alice A. Bailey books or if I was a member of the Theosophical Society (TS). I told them that I hadn't and wasn't and they hung up. The next day they called back and a different individual asked me almost the same questions and I repeated my answer but they said if I was interested in attending the meeting, come to the TS the following Thursday evening around 7 p.m.
I went, and found a small group sitting on chairs in a semicircle in a basement room of the TS. At the head was a short, round, oriental gentleman in a sports jacket and tie and sitting beside him a much taller lady with a very colorful tie-dyed type of dress. Everyone was sitting quietly waiting for RN, the teacher, to begin. At first, I had some difficulty really understanding what he was saying, because of his thick accent. It took me some time to get used to it. He started the class with a short meditation to get 'into Essence' he said, and to be centered. I was totally surprised that the first part of his guided meditation was to focus on the golden flame in the lotus of the heart, picturing your body at the same time as empty and hollow. This is the meditation technique that I had already learned about from the book, as I mentioned before, Raja Yoga. He didn't allow anyone to take notes either. He mentioned that this meditation he was giving us was based on 'Vedanta', where you try to detach from your thoughts, emotions, and the physical body. This early meditation was called, 'not this, not that'. For instance, during the meditation you would create a mental picture of an event that caused you to be happy, then repeating this but visualizing an event that made you feel sad. You were to observe this as if you were watching TV. What this meant was to see it from a distance, not to get caught up in the memory. Not to get identified. Then you would try to feel yourself as the Essence, and realize that you are not your emotions. Then you would do the same with your thoughts. First it was necessary to see your thoughts as they constantly flow through your awareness. Again, you have to realize that you're not your thoughts. Then realize that you are the Essence, the Soul, and a point of Light. Once the meditation period was over, RN moved directly into his lecture after which there would be questions and answers and a discussion.
To the side of him he held, on a large type of clipboard, a multi-colored painting of various symbols. He lectured on something called 'Atma-Vidya', the Occult Constitution of Man and the Masters of Wisdom. I didn't understand much of what he was discussing, but something in me did, and I knew this was the knowledge I was longing to know. This was the beginning of the group. They were meeting every two weeks for a lecture and a short meditation. I came to the group just after *WESAK in May of 1975. (See chapter on Importance of WESAK)
That summer I had already arranged a trip with a buddy of mine to California and missed the group meetings for the entire summer. While in California I maintained a daily discipline of meditation and even went on a ten day silent meditation-yoga retreat in the mountains. For me, staying silent for ten days was not difficult. It almost seemed natural, especially when you are in the mountains. I tried to do the meditation I learned in the group. At this point in my spiritual journey my meditation periods only lasted for 15 to 20 minutes. I felt that I was still a member of the group as I was doing the meditation given out by RN. When I returned home in September, I enquired about the group meetings and found out that the teacher did not want me to re-join, since I had disappeared for so long. I had told him that I would be away for the entire summer. Fortunately, one of the group members interceded for me and I was allowed back in. Thus began my association with this little group and then karma took over.
A group needs focus, our teacher provided that focus. He was just called RN. Our group was very small and over time it became more of a family. RN had three children who at different times were members of the group, too. All the members of the group were professionals, including RN, who was a flavor chemist and the rest of us all worked at various jobs from lawyer to teachers and in the service industry. We were not a group of dreamers but instead we were practical and down-to-earth individuals. "A group is brought together under karmic law, ashramic necessity and soul direction." (3)
As a flavour chemist for a large international corporation, RN had a very analytical 5th Ray (see section explaining Seven Rays) approach to teaching. He explained to us that the occult/esoteric teachings, like chemistry, were in fact an exact science. Everything was based on Law. RN had spent many years studying before he met us and built this group that lasted just over 30 years. RN did not cast himself as a guru. He was a teacher on the way.
The person who has found the way Can pass on the gracious teachings to others;
Thus he aids himself and helps the others, too.
To give is then the only thought. (4)
When the group first started to come together in the early 70s, RN's knowledge was comprised of what he had gleaned from Theosophical books, plus his heritage. He was born in Indonesia with a Chinese father and Indonesian mother. He was exposed to Buddhism at an early age but by 16 had, through an older friend, discovered Theosophy. He told us that he had his first awakening while meditating during the Full Moon of WESAK, at the ancient Buddhist temple of Boro Budur on the island of Java.
RN eventually came to Canada via Holland. In Holland he discovered his talent as a chemist with a keen sense of smell, which led to his work in the flavor industry. He lived in a small town outside The Hague, with his wife and two children. He spent most of his free time studying spiritual books. His first marriage went sour as his wife, his high school sweetheart, got pregnant from his best friend. After his divorce he set sail for Canada, and very soon met a travelling Australian woman whom he married and started a new family with in Toronto. RN's two older children stayed in Holland, only coming to Canada many years later.
When I met RN, his wife was pregnant with their first child.
The experience of a small spiritual group and learning from a mandala was intriguing and totally new to me. Even the title, the "Occult Constitution of Man", gave me goose bumps as I sensed that a door to a new and maybe secret knowledge was about to open. RN had designed this occult mandala and his wife had painted it in very bright colors under his direction. He said that this Mandala was the key to understanding both oneself and the esoteric teaching of the Master D.K. This was the teaching on 'Atma Vidya', the radiant knowledge of Self or Personality, Soul, Spirit (see diagram below). These diagrams were very helpful in getting insights into the deeper teachings. Each diagram was an expression of a complex teaching in a two-dimensional form, based on geometric symbols and color. In a way, each of these diagrams synthesized an entire teaching that you would have to read an entire book to understand. This was like a shortcut. Over time, these diagrams evolved and RN added subtle changes that expressed more of the esoteric truths.
The Master D.K. points out in a footnote in Treatise on Cosmic Fire that there are four branches of knowledge in India
1) Yagna Vidya, the knowledge of ritual.
2) Maha Vidya, magical knowledge.
3) Guyha Vidya, the mystic knowledge of sound, mantra.
4) Atma Vidya, the relation between the Greater Self and the little self.
The wisdom of Atma Vidya includes the other 3. (5)
Atma Vidya explains how the One Life and Light, the source of All, the OM manifests through the seven planes, from Adi, the first plane, down to the physical or 7th plane (Vaisvanara). As the ONE Ray (Spirit) from this Greater Life (ALL SELF) descends, it separates from this One Life and individualizes as a self-contained Soul (Jiva Atma). From this Soul, this individualized self-identity sends its ray of life and light (consciousness) to its reflection, the soul in incarnation, the lesser light, the Essential Nature. From here this life energy – now prana – radiates to the individual form that lives and thrives on the physical plane. It is this Essential Nature, the soul in incarnation, the lower light, that has to be awakened from its sleep. The 'lower light' is that which is hidden within the human being, the personality, on the physical plane. "This light, at a certain stage of man's experience, is awakened throughout the physical body and blends eventually with the 'greater light' (5). This is a most esoteric point the Master D.K. points out in Rule Two in Treatise on White Magic and I will discuss it further shortly.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Living On The Inner Edge"
Copyright © 2017 Cyrus Ryan.
Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
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Table of Contents
Introduction to the Group Work, 3,
First Awakening, 6,
Finding the Group, 10,
Heart of RN's Teaching, 17,
Group Expands, 20,
RN Goes to India, 22,
Discussing the 4th Way & Yoga, 24,
My First Trip to India, 30,
Shiva or Avalokiteshvara, 40,
Some Insights, 44,
Five Dhyani Buddhas, 48,
The Master Comes, 53,
Psychic Artist, 58,
Tapas – Super Effort, 60,
Astral Forces, 62,
Raja Yoga, Pratyahara: The Key to Yogic Meditation, 64,
Rules of the Group Work, 71,
The Work to Come, 75,
Dweller on the Threshold, 77,
Second Trip to India, 84,
Dealing with My Dweller of the Threshold (DOTH), 93,
Group Challenges, 98,
Importance of WESAK, 105,
Why WESAK is so Important, 107,
Learning From an Occult Experience, 114,
A Pitfall on the Path, 120,
Three of us Take a Trip, 123,
Love and Sex, 125,
An Ordeal, 144,
Some Thoughts on Astral Attacks, 153,
Mantra and Deity, 158,
Occult Insights, 164,
In Tibet, 166,
Advent of the Devas, 172,
Dictates of Karma, 177,
The Group Work: Part 2 Practice, 182,
The Seven Rays, 203,
Part 3 Appendix, 206,