There are four turning points of the year: the solstices of winter and summer, and the equinoxes of the spring and of the autumn. The cycle of the year among the ancient peoples was always considered to be a symbol of the life of man or, indeed, of the life of the universe. Birth at the Winter Solstice, the beginning of the year; adolescence — trials and their conquest — at the Spring Equinox; adulthood, full-blown strength and power, at the Summer Solstice, representing a period of initiation when the Great Renunciation is made; and then closing with the Autumnal Equinox, the period of the Great Passing. This cycle of the year likewise symbolizes the training in chelaship.
At the time of the Winter Solstice, two are the main degrees which neophytes or initiants must pass through, to wit, the fourth degree and the seventh or last: the fourth for less great men, although they are great men nonetheless; and the last or seventh initiation, coming but at rare intervals as the ages cycle by, being the birth of the Buddhas and of the Christs.
During the initiation of those individuals of less grandiose spiritual and intellectual capacity than is the human material out of which the Buddhas are born, during this fourth initiation, the postulant is taught to free himself from all the trammels of mind and from the lower four principles of his constitution; and being thus set free he passes along the magnetic channels or circulations of the universe, even to the portals of the Sun, but there and then he stops and returns. Three days usually are the time required for this, and then the man arises a full initiate, but with a realization that ahead of him are still loftier peaks to scale on that lonely path, that still path, that small path, leading to divinity.
As regards the seventh initiation, this occurs in a cycle lasting some 2,160 human years, the time which it takes for a zodiacal sign to pass through a constellation backwards into the next constellation; in other words, what is called among mystics in the Occident the Messianic Cycle. When the planets Mercury and Venus, and Sun and Moon and Earth, are situated in syzygy, then the freed monad of the lofty neophyte can pass along the magnetic pathway through these bodies and continue direct to the heart of the Sun. For fourteen days the man left on Earth is as in a trance, or walks about in a daze, in a quasi-stupor; for the inner part of him, the real part of him, is peregrinating through the spheres. Two weeks later, during the light half of the lunar cycle or month, that is, when the moon stands full, his peregrinating monad returns rapidly as flashing thought along the same pathway by which it ascended to Father Sun, retaking to itself the habiliments which it dropped on each planet as it passed through it: the habiliments of Mercury, the habiliments of Venus, the habiliments of the Moon — of the lunar body, of the lunar orb — and from the Moon the monad returns to the entranced body left behind. Then for a while, shorter or longer according to circumstances, the neophyte's whole being is irradiated with the solar spiritual splendor, and he is a Buddha just "born." All his body is in flaming glory, as it were; and from his head, and from back of his head in especial, as an aureole, there spring forth rays, rays of glory like a crown. It is because of this that crowns in the Occident and diadems in the Hither East were formerly worn by those who had passed through this degree, for verily they are Sons of the Sun, crowned with the solar splendor.
In these initiations the man dies. Initiation is death, death of the lower part of the man; and in actual fact the body dies but is nevertheless held alive, not by the spirit-soul which has flown from it as a butterfly frees itself from its chrysalis, but kept alive by those who are watching and waiting and guarding. It is due to this holding of the bodily triad alive that the peregrinating spirit-soul is enabled finally to return as a bird to its nest, where it recognizes its former bodily home, and is "reborn," but in this case reborn into the same body. During the period of time when the peregrinating monad is absent, whether it be for three days or for fourteen, the excarnate monad has followed the pathways of death literally, but has done so quickly and within the fortnight. In actual fact the process is virtually identic with that followed in the case of excarnation and reincarnation, for it returns to the entranced body along the pathways of rebirth, of reimbodiment, and is, as it were, reborn into the old body instead of into a new one; and thus was it said of such a man in India that he is a dvija — as the Brahmans of Aryavarta put it — a "twice-born" initiate.
This phrase also has one meaning more: one who is reborn from the ashes of the old life, which life is now burnt out and dead. But it has also the deeper significance of which I have spoken. These seventh-degree initiations which occur once during the Messianic Cycle, and which produce the spiritual fruit of a minor Buddha called a Bodhisattva, must not be confused with one of the greatest of initiations known to the human race, that is, those belonging solely to the racial Buddhas. There are in any root-race but two racial Buddhas. But the Bodhisattvas of differing degrees of evolutionary grandeur are very numerous. The cyclical Bodhisattvas as above hinted come, one each, in every Messianic Cycle of 2,160 years, and are usually of an avataric character.
There are cases where neophytes fail, yet those who fail have another chance in other lives; but the penalty for failure in this life is either death or madness, and the penalty is very just. Solemn indeed are the warnings given to those who would fly like the birds into the ethers of the inner worlds and follow the tracks of those who have preceded them along the circulations of the universe.
When you look up at the starry night or during the daytime raise your eyes and look at the splendor of Father Sun shining in the blue vault of midday, how empty the spacial expanse seems to be — how seeming vacuous, how seeming void! Astronomers tell us that the earth is a sphere poised in the void, in the ether, free except for the gravitational attraction of the sun, and that the earth is following its pathway, its orbit, around the sun not otherwise than gravitationally attached thereto; in short, that "space" is emptiness. Ay, indeed, space, mystically speaking, is sunyata "emptiness" in its esoteric significance, but by no means "emptiness" as Occidental astronomers understand it; for verily the space which we look at, which our physical eyes think they see — or don't see — is substance so dense, so concrete, that no human conception can give any clear idea thereof to the brain-mind otherwise than by mathematics.
One physicist-astronomer, J. J. Thomson, some years ago calculated that the ether of space was two thousand million times denser than lead. This revoices an old doctrine; but remember that the proper manner of expressing this fact all depends upon the way in which we look at it. We have eyes evolved to sense, to pierce, the matter of our sphere, and we see what seems to us to be vacuity, emptiness; but actually that seeming vacuity or emptiness is absolutely full, is, in fact, a plenum, a pleroma, full of worlds and spheres and planes, full of hierarchies, of evolving entities on these worlds and spheres and planes.
Please try clearly to grasp this idea. Our entire surya-system, our entire solar system, called the Egg of Brahma, may be looked at from one very true standpoint as an enormous ovoid aggregate body poised in space; and were some astronomer on some distant globe in the stellar deeps to see our Egg of Brahma, and were he to see it from the proper superior plane or world, our entire solar system would appear to him as an ovoid body of light — as an egg-shaped irresolvable nebula. This would include all the "emptiness" that we see, or think we see, the emptiness so called, and therefore would include all our solar world of the Egg of Brahma, from the very heart of Father Sun to beyond the confines of what astronomers call the farthermost planets.
The Egg of Brahma is composed of concentric spheres centered in the Sun, and each one of these spheres is a cosmic world. Its heart — the heart of each one of them — is the Sun. The world or sphere of our Earth is one such, and surrounds the Sun as a sphere of dense substance, and the nucleus in this sphere or egg, for such it is, is what we commonly call our Earth. Such also is the sphere of Mercury, such is the sphere of Venus, such is the sphere of Mars, also of Jupiter, also of Saturn; yes, and of Uranus too — but remember that Uranus belongs not to our own system of sacred worlds, although it belongs to our Egg of Brahma.
In this connection note well that although any concentric sphere such as that of our Earth, or that of Jupiter, or that of Mercury, is de facto such an Egg or Sphere of Brahma, yet the nucleus of each such sphere or planet, if seen in motion from another plane, would appear to be a wave or ripple advancing steadily in and around a solid or semisolid zone or belt; this zone or belt actually being what we call on our plane the locus of the orbit of such planetary body as of Earth, or of Jupiter, or of Mercury. The meaning of this again is that a planetary orbit, such as that of Earth seen from another plane, is an actual belt or zone surrounding the Sun, being the pathway, so to speak, of the nucleus which in this zone can be considered in movement as a ripple or wave moving steadily around this belt, or zone, or ring. From what has just been said, it becomes immediately obvious that what we call a planet can be properly viewed from three different planes of vision, as three different things: first, as a globe such as we on this plane see it; second, from another plane as a wave or ripple, circularly advancing in and following the course of an annular zone or belt surrounding the Sun; and third, as a concentric sphere, or rather spheroid, or egg, with its center at the heart of the Sun.
These concentric worlds or spheres are in constant circular movement of revolution around the heart of the Sun, the spheres within each other somewhat like the skins of an onion, and yet each one is formed of different matters in a sense, of matters in a different state from the matters of the other spheres, and hence they pass through each other as easily as if the others did not exist. Thus it is that our eye can see some of the stellar bodies lying beyond the orbits of Mars and of Jupiter and of Saturn. All we see of the stellar host outside of our Egg of Brahma happens to be those particular stars or suns which, by reason of their having attained the same degree of material evolution whereon we ourselves now stand and where our physical sun is, therefore are visible to our organs of sight. Were we living on another plane, our vision could not penetrate the respective matters, otherwise the orbits or spheres, of Mars or Jupiter or of Saturn. These three planets alone hide billions and billions and billions of suns that we during our present manvantara or world-cycle cannot ever see. Some day in the far distant future, as evolution works on the matter of our world-sphere, we shall see some of the raja-suns now hid by these three planets — by the spheres of these three planets, for the planets and their respective spheres are really the same. It is precisely because the Egg of Brahma is substantial throughout, and that interplanetary space is therefore substantial throughout, that light belonging to this fourth cosmic plane can pass from stars to us.
In speaking of these concentric spheres, please remember also that a proper conception of the structure and characteristics of the Egg of Brahma must include a realization of the significant fact that there are many more planetary concentric spheres than those of the eight or nine or ten planets known to Occidental astronomy. There are scores of planets in the solar system which are utterly invisible by means of any astronomical instrument or apparatus, and furthermore, and still more important, there are numbers of these concentric spheres which belong to entirely other planes of the cosmos, and each one of these invisible concentric spheres, which are in some cases superior and in some cases inferior to our plane, is as fully inhabited with its multifarious hosts of beings as our own plane is. Each plane has its own hierarchies of inhabitants, its own inhabited worlds with their dwellers, with their countries, with their mountains, and seas, and lakes, and dwellings, and whatnot, even as our Earth has.
These concentric world-spheres considered as a whole were the crystalline spheres of the ancients, which astronomers have so grossly misunderstood, and therefore have so much derided. What indeed did these words mean: "crystalline spheres"? The meaning was, spheres of which the center was the Sun and which were transparent to our eyesight. Just as glass is very dense and yet is transparent to our eyesight, so are the ethers of our fourth cosmic plane very dense and yet transparent to us. To the inhabitants of Earth viewing the phenomena of the solar system from the Earth, the entire system of concentric spheres, due to the Earth's rotation, seems to revolve around the Earth, and hence arises the geocentric way of looking at the apparent movements of the planets and the Sun, Moon, and stars. All things in universal nature are repetitive in structure and in action. The small mirrors the great, and the great reproduces itself in the small, for verily the twain are one.
Furthermore, on account of the magnetic structure and action of the twelve globes of our planetary chain, our Earth has magnetic bipolar action of twelve different kinds; one such polar pair is known to scientists, the others unknown. Our Egg of Brahma, our solar system, as a whole, likewise has twelve magnetic bipolar courses or what in short are called magnetic poles, and each one of these twelve poles has its locus in one of the twelve constellations of the zodiac — or rather the twelve constellations of the zodiac are the loci of the twelve poles of the zodiacal period. The wheel of life with its twelve spokes runs on forever.
Thus it is that a human being can be a son of the Sun. Thus it is that a human being can ascend along the magnetic pathways from Earth to Moon, from Moon to Venus, from Venus to Mercury, from Mercury to the heart of Father Sun — and return. On the journey outwards, certain sheaths or integuments of the peregrinating monad are dropped at each planetary station. Dust to dust on Earth. The lunar body is cast off and abandoned in the valleys of the Moon. On Venus, habiliments of Venusian character are cast aside also; and so is it likewise on Mercury. Then the solar portion of us is ingathered into its own heart. The peregrinating monad on its return journey leaves the Sun after reassuming its own solar sheath. It enters the sphere of Mercury, gathers up there the garments that it previously had cast aside, assumes these, and then passes to Venus, reclothes itself with what it had there previously laid down, then enters the unholy sphere of the Moon, and in its dark valleys picks up its former lunar body, and thence is borne to Earth on the lunar rays when the Moon is full. Dust to dust, Moon to Moon, Venus to Venus, Mercury to Mercury, Sun to Sun!
Initiation is the becoming, by self-conscious experience, temporarily at one with other worlds and planes, and the various degrees of initiation mark the various stages of advancement or of ability to do this. As the initiations progress in grandeur, so does the spirit-soul of the initiant penetrate deeper and deeper into the invisible worlds and spheres. One must become fully cognizant of all the secrets of the solar egg before one can become a divinity in that solar egg, taking a part, self-conscious and deliberate, in the cosmic labor.
Prepare yourselves continually, for every day is a new chance, is a new doorway, a new opportunity. Lose not the days of your lives, for the time will come, fatally come, when it will be your turn to undertake this sublimest of adventures. Glorious beyond words to express will be the reward if you succeed. Therefore practice, practice continuously your will. Open your heart more and more. Remember the divinity at your inmost, the inmost divinity of you, the heart of you, the core of you. Love others, for these others are yourself. Forgive them, for in so doing you forgive yourself. Help them, for in so doing you strengthen yourself. Hate them, and in so doing you prepare your own feet to travel to the Pit, for in so doing you hate yourself. Turn your backs on the Pit, and turn your faces to the Sun!