Birth, Life, Death. Basic considerations on initiation
By Athos A. Altomonte
© copyright 2007 by Esonet.it - Esonet.com
Index: Birth, Life, Death, Three great initiations – To grow means to initiate oneself – Elitist, social and edonist initiations: three dimensions where to grow – Psycho-synthesis, approach to a modern initiatory praxis – The Principle of Self-Initiation – The Principle of Diorism – Conclusive aspects – Appendix: Three theories on death.
Birth, life, death, three great initiations
De Filippo wrote that exams never end in life. It follows that trials don't end either, until the last great initiation of ‘ physical death' comes.
To find the true initiatory path in life makes the concept of initiation extremely wide and refined; it eventually develops through three degrees: birth, life and death of the interpreter.
For many doctrines these are definitive passages; whilst according to the initiatory Doctrine to be born, to live and to die are apparent states of the same journey that in materiality keep repeating themselves up to the complete physical manifestation of the subtle conscience.
This goal is a project of general as well as individual order called ‘ consecration of the matter '. In both cases it implies the contact between the material and the spiritual dimension. In the individual case mental development works as an intermediary between two dimensions of conscience, the physical-animal one connected to the physical body and the subtle one irradiated by the spiritual nucleus that Plato called monad.
Hermeticists call this project Great Project . But the consecration of (one's own) matter can be reached faster by the individual through a process called Initiation . The Great Work concerns both man and the planet, therefore it can be defined manifold yet unique . This can be explained if we assume that man is not the body that he moves but the thought that animates him. According to this postulate by consecrating ourselves, viz. by elevating the quality of the substance of our psycho-conscience, initiates also consecrate the substance of the matter of the planet that they use; therefore they consecrate the planet itself. Here we are back to the manifold yet unique project, where to ‘consecrate the matter' is a project that involves the planet as well as the single individual.
An example of this symbiosis is alimentation. Man feeds on elements belonging to inferior kingdoms (mineral, vegetable, animal) which he uses to produce highly specialized energy, such as the forms of thought (ideas); this elevates the elements assimilated in the specialized forms that they are turned into.
The same method in a more elevated form can be used by man to sublimate himself, using his aspects to build forms of life-thought and conscience more refined and versatile. This is another fundament of initiation, where by developing the mind with an operation called psychic precipitation the igneous part of the subtle conscience is attracted into the dimension of the physical-animal conscience enlightening it.
Practical sense drives us to concentrate this treaty on ‘life' as an initiatory journey rather than on the dimension of conscience preceding the birth and following the death of the physical body. These three dimensions in man share the same aspect: fear . Indeed, the main obstacle in the ‘journey of man' is the fear to be born, the fear to live and the fear to die. It is the same fear which all the ghosts of the humankind feed on.
To grow means to initiate oneself
We will talk about the three initiatory models that are best characterized in practical initiations, symbolical initiations and real initiation.
Since its birth the young, both animal and human, is simultaneously initiated to conscious life, to its race, to the enlarged and restricted nucleus where it belongs: herd or family. It is immediately bombarded with impulses and sensations that contribute to form its individuality. Every detail learnt influences and modifies its decisions, even the direction of its life. Accidentalnesses, tendencies, decisions, opportunities and attention are summed up to the personal virtues and faults giving a unique and unrepeatable journey to each. In this journey the quantity of trials will be proportional to sensitivity, intelligence and courage of the individual; their overcoming will be decisive for the quality of the growth.
Many interpretations have been made on the concept of growth. So many and so varied that many people end up confusing the usefulness of technological progress with the values of civilization. In a strict sense to grow implies the development of body, mind and physical conscience unconnected to the inner reality or it entails that subtle conscience and superior mind become the top of oneself and therefore the finish line of one's progress. This is the great distinction.
A path of life is marked by a long series of free choices which produce a huge number of small initiations whose qualities suit virtues and faults of the protagonist. Despite his uniqueness the human being shares certain characteristics with particular groups for affinity, empathy or affection.
The attraction towards a kind or another depends on the mental condition that can be shared or refused. When these attractions increase they end up generating specific areas of belonging that become the many ‘dimensions' where men live, grow and die, often without cognition of the surrounding dimensions.
To recognize oneself in particular dimensions and to participate to fractions of common knowledge (conventions) might seem a joining factor, therefore a positive one. In actual fact, to build different mental compartments is not only a separating aspect, but it often becomes a cause of conflict that can be marginally controlled by social security cushions such as rules and sanctions.
Conflict increases against the people we don't understand, we don't know and in general towards those considered different, as a threat to the stability of the social group.
Indeed, diversity is only an illusion based on empirical suppositions, such as ancient beliefs, different languages and particular uses which, even when they are strongly rooted in popular consciences, are not truer than others. It is common sense to say that separation is a negative factor, the result of dull consciences. It is subtler to state that it is a counter-initiatory aspect that can be overcome only by practicing the altruistic, tolerant and intelligent sense that allows to improve the harmony of the thought rather than its pre-potency.
Elitist, social, edonist: three dimensions where to grow
‘Know Thyself' was carved on the façade of the temples. Today, though, the choice of the area of growth depends on fictitious knowledge. Like the way we see ourselves and we would like to be seen, or the model we identify with.
In actual fact, though, nobody ever truly knows his identity; interestingly, one of the corollaries of initiation is to re-gain the memory of our subtle identity. Only after knowing and being recognized by his subtle counterpart, which some cultures call guardian angel and others guiding spirit , the initiate will be able to use Free Will.
The initiatory elite chose the sum of many factors parallelly matured as a path of growth. This process starts with reaching masterhood of the body and freeing the mind from the influence of the most primitive emotions. The freedom of mind and conscience is the aspect that attracts the subtle conscience towards the most external planes, recognizing a unification from which the so much talked about ‘knowledge' starts.
A different matter is the story of those who interpret their growth as the quantity of recorded information or professional and social success. This dulls the growth and makes it mercenary, establishing its value through the monetization of man. This is the field of symbolic initiations that give virtual powers marked by exterior symbols, which despite their sumptuousness can't hide the inner narrowness revealed by thoughts and words.
On the contrary, the most childish consciences link their growth to a stage of top physical efficiency or they exhalt the beauty of their body for the purpose of reaching a particularly seducing physical form. This is the dimension of carelessness of those who postpone the payment of the debt of life which will be certainly taken back with an interest.
To describe the basic aspects of initiation we should start by saying that initiation is inside us, not outside; the true master is the voice of the soul inside us, not outside. Outside we can find instructors that choose their pupils according to precise rules; they are never chosen and they never let others choose them. So much caution is given by the fact that by accepting a pupil the instructor joins his destiny and this might not be a good thing. It is essential that the instructor knows the deep reasons that drive someone to apply for acceptance in a dimension that is not only theoretical. Certain experiments can really hurt.
Psycho-synthesis, approach to a modern initiatory praxis
To understand the inner dimensions is not easy. For people who belong to the Western culture (positivist) Psycho-synthesis could be a precious source of information and a good set of rules. Psycho-synthesis is a ‘therapeutic' science because, after all, between mind and soul we are all unbalanced and ‘free' to make mistakes.
Many eminent theologists say that man owns Free Will, but it is not so. Man only has the ‘freedom of choice' and of making mistakes, which are the yeast of the bread of knowledge (see The First Occult Center of Initiation ). We regularly regret these choices; this demonstrates that they didn't originate from Free Will. The condition of error lasts until the mind gets in contact with the superior Ego. We can say that the superior Ego is our Free Will. To know this facilitates our journey.
Psycho-synthesis is not a universal remedy but it explains what interiorization is and how to practice introspection or phantasmal analysis. This is the famous VITRIOL, which no esotericist can explain how to practice. VITRIOL is the descent and re-ascent towards the several inner realities. Note, ‘reality', not dreams or delusions.
We live in an extremely limited dimension of conscience called conscience of wake , but there is a dimension called sub-consciousness , densely populated with repressed forms of thought, which Socrates called inner demòns (good) and dèmons (bad), which must be liberated to recover the energy of thought and use it again in the most efficient forms. There is also a huge dimension unknown to most people called super-consciousness , comparable to an inner sky with its inhabitants. This is a dimension we need to discover, where we can establish the best ‘alliances'.
These dimensions must be joined using the will, which is the bonding agent of different entities (see Act of Will among the texts on psycho-synthesis). All this configurates the necessary conditions so that the small personal self (personality) can ‘receive' the superior conscience, the superior Ego or Self, results of the soul. In modern terms, this is the exact description of Initiation that was re-veiled (veiled twice) by symbols and metaphors.
Initiation is therefore the transformation that, by the law that ‘the greater simile attracts the lesser simile', allows the small personal ego to join the superior Ego. This unification has been called ‘ alchemic nuptials' or ‘ celestial marriage' .
In order to build the conditions favorable to the contact (see Ars Pontificia in The two faces of Freemasonry ) two operations are necessary. The Transmutation of the physical ego (personality) that starts by dis-integrating (to detach, detachment) mind and conscience from the physical ego. This element of conscience is only a residue of the subtle conscience which, in its loneliness, has matured the conviction that it rules its life, whilst it is only a temporary minor figure.
This sense of domain , which in some men becomes delirium of omnipotence , must be considered as the Great Delusion that must be rid of, freeing ourselves from the egocentrism of the small ego. The contradictions of the personal and impermanent ego become macroscopic when the mental aura of the superior Ego appears in the conscience.
The Principle of self-initiation
Leaving aside practical and professional initiation and starting from the assumption that the initiation we are dealing with requires a permanent metamorphosis of the conscience of the initiating, we can safely state that no human Organization, not even the noblest and most religious, is able to transmit initiations that are not representative, symbolical and virtual. In order to overcome the standstill that arises with this statement, we have to conclude that in dealing with Initiation we must in actual fact talk about self-initiation . More precisely descending initiation , if we use the metaphor that Initiation is the joining of above and below. Therefore we must distinguish the initiation from the public recognition made by peers.
In the Ancient Precepts we read that nobody can initiate anybody but themselves. In actual fact an initiatory Assembly doesn't transmit initiation but it recognizes its achievement after ascertaining that the neophyte got through the ‘trials' successfully.
In practice, trials consist of complying with duties that produce expansions of conscience and painful inner transmutations. It is not difficult to realize that the solitary overcoming of trials hides the Principle of self-initiation , manifested in the will to overcome oneself, one's weaknesses and fears and the resistance to any form of desire.
Self-initiation as a principle of self-sufficiency has always been hindered by mundane hierarchies, which found their power on the award of virtual ordinations.
Self-initiation is also known as ‘ descending initiation ' because the light of the conscience of the soul enlightens the lower forma mentis initiating it ‘to Itself'.
The Principle of Diorism
Next to the initiatory Laws we find the Principle of Diorism ; according to it the only form of elitism accepted among Initiates is the recognition of exceptional abilities, which are considered as common patrimony of the Brotherhood, rather than personal powers.
The Principle of Diorism is a Platonic concept and it means distinction, division. In the instance of an initiate it refers to the criterion of meritocracy that we can describe as the principle of natural selection applied to the initiatory sphere. In this case the selection is only intellectual and it is based on the ability of the initiate to realize the personal Work and to congruously manifest the principles that he has been educated to recognize in the results of operativeness, consistency, intelligence and most of all of will, which tends towards the Top of the hierarchic Pyramid seen as Mountain of Initiation.
The aspects necessary to reach Initiation are known as transmutation of oneself [see mental alchemy From knowledge to mental liberation ; and link or bridge (see Ars pontificia) with our real identity (see Ars Regia)].
The right attitude is to stop identifying oneself with the personal ego, because it is only a ‘shadow of the Idea that animates us'. We must start identifying with the existence inside us, of which we often hear the ‘silent voice', although we refuse to hear it in order to continue making our disastrous ‘free choices'.
There comes a day when we understand that this existence is our true identity. Without realizing it, this discovery leads us towards its ‘light'. From here comes the idea of the Wanderer who leaves the shadow where he's been for such a long time that he has forgotten the light where he came from.
The Wanderer entered the shadow voluntarily, joining the project of ‘consecration of the matter', because he is a builder, a pioneer and not a fallen angel. This is the old identity that he must regain, but this time in the physical conscience, in order to get back a spiritual conscience in the corporeal form. Nothing happens, though, until the physical conscience remains isolated. In order to break the isolation it is necessary to ‘build' a link, or bridge, with the superior conscience whose egoic center is the only mental entity in contact with the soul. The problem is to know where and how to build the link (or bridge) between physical and subtle consciences. We have dedicated many works to this subject, starting from mental alchemy.
Three theories on death
Initiatory science states the continuity of conscience; it recognizes in death only the task of re-creation of conscience. Science recognizes that ‘nothing is lost, nothing is destroyed', whilst the divine law supports eternal persistence. Among many theories, three are known to everyone:
1. Materialism assumes the expression and the experience of a conscious life until the tangible form exists and lasts, but it teaches that after death and the disintegration of the body there isn't a conscious, living, identified being. The sense of ‘self', of a personality different from others disappears with form; it is nothing but the total conscience of corporal cells. It is a theory that places man on the same level as the other natural kingdoms. It is based on the insensitiveness of common man to life when the latter lacks a tangible vehicle. It ignores any contrary evidence and states that the ‘Ego', viz. the immortal entity, doesn't exist because it can't be seen or touched. But those that today support this theory are not as many as they were during the Victorian and materialistic age.
2. Conditioned immortality is proposed by certain theological schools limited to a few intellectuals characterized by selfishness; it states that the gift of immortality is given only to those who reached a certain level of spiritual conscience or observe a series of theological precepts. Some people with extraordinary intellectual talent say sometimes that the supreme good for man is an educated and experienced mind and the man who owns it lives forever. This theory, though, condemns all those considered reluctant or spiritually hopeless at its particular theological certainties to an eternal punishment or annihilation, like materialism; at the same time it theorizes a form of immortality. But the human heart has its inborn goodness; therefore there are very few vindictive and senseless people who accept this doctrine. Of course among them we must consider those men unable to think, which escape any mental responsibility and blindly rely on a theology.
Catholic orthodoxy can't support its theories in front of a clear and reasoned enquiry. Among the arguments that destroy its fundaments there is the fact that it assumes an eternal future without a past; this future depends only on the actions of the present episodic life and it doesn't explain the differences among men. This theory can be supported only in the hypothesis of an anthropomorphic divinity that gives a present with a future but without a past. This is undoubtably unfair but the will of that God is unfathomable and can't be discussed. Millions of men share this belief but it isn't as strong as a hundred years ago.
3. The doctrine of reincarnation is more and more popular in the West. It is considered true (despite many additions and puerile interpretations); this teaching has undergone many distortions from narrowminded theologists, like it happened to Christ's, Buddha's or Sri Krishna's teachings. Today there is an unprecedented acceptance of the great truths with a spiritual origin, of a descent in the matter from which we can ascend through many incarnations in the form, until this expresses the spiritual conscience that inhabits it and a series of initiations to accomplish this cycle. These are the solutions given to the problem of immortality and persistence of the human soul. They answer the questions: where do we come from? Where do we go? Why?
In a few years the matter of persistence and eternity of existence will leave the area of doubt and enter the kingdom of certainty. Nobody will doubt that the abandonment of the physical body prevents man from being a conscious entity. We will know that he perpetuates his existence in a world behind the physical one. We will know that he is still alive, awake and conscious.