Truly, "for the salvation of the good and the destruction of wickedness," the personalities known as Gautama, Sankara, Jesus and a few others were born each in his age, as declared — "I am born in every Yuga" — and they were all born through the same Power.
There is a great mystery in such incarnations and they are outside and beyond the cycle of general re-births. Rebirths may be divided into three classes: the divine incarnations called Avataras; those of Adepts who give up Nirvana for the sake of helping on humanity — the Nirmanakayas; and the natural succession of rebirths for all — the common law. The Avatara is an appearance, one which may be termed a special illusion within the natural illusion that reigns on the planes under the sway of that power, Maya; the Adept is re-born consciously, at his will and pleasure;* the units of the common herd unconsciously follow the great law of dual evolution.
What is an Avatara? for the term before being used ought to be well understood. It is a descent of the manifested Deity — whether under the specific name of Shiva, Vishnu, or Adi-Buddha — into an illusive form of individuality, an appearance which to men on this illusive plane is objective, but it is not so in sober fact. That illusive form having neither past nor future, because it had neither previous incarnation nor will have subsequent rebirths, has naught to do with Karma, which has therefore no hold on it.
*A genuine initiated Adept will retain his Adeptship, though there may be for our world of illusion numberless incarnations of him. The propelling power that lies at the root of a series of such incarnations is not Karma, as ordinarily understood, but a still more inscrutable power. During the period of his lives the Adept does not lose his Adeptship, though he cannot rise in it to a higher degree.
— H. P. Blavatsky, "The Doctrine of Avataras." "S.D. III," p. 364
PLUNGING directly into our subject this evening, it will be remembered that we have been studying the nature of the Wondrous Being of whom H. P. Blavatsky writes in the first volume of The Secret Doctrine; and that the key words by which we may gain some appreciation of the way this Wondrous Being works in humanity, and more particularly in the psychological hierarchy, through the cycles of the Mysteries and of initiation — these key words were the "human Banyan."
Also we read on page 424 of the same volume, under section the 12th, "The Theogony of the Creative Gods," H. P. Blavatsky's words concerning the hierarchy of forces, where she points out how these forces were originally understood in their proper sense as intelligences and consciousnesses working in nature; but that each nation, as the cycles of time passed by, understood these forces and intelligences in the same way indeed, but gave to them different names, and developed a philosophical understanding of the machinery, so to say, of the kosmos in slightly differing manners or forms, and that these different philosophical forms were the various schools of the Mysteries; for instance, in Samothrace and Eleusis in Greece, and similar schools in other countries.
Now up to the present time we have been talking in more or less generalizing terms regarding this Wondrous Being; but tonight we are going to try to particularize, asking ourselves definitely who and what this Wondrous Being is.
To do that, we are undertaking an extremely difficult task, on account of the subtil nature of the subjects which in their entirety expose the truth about this Wondrous Being. We cannot understand who and what this Wondrous Being is without understanding something of the initiations of the Mystery Schools; and to understand those we must understand something of the higher aspect of human psychology; and again, to understand that, we must understand the other doctrines which we have been studying, such as that of hierarchies, and the doctrine of swabhava, and so forth.
Please understand that these seven jewels, these seven treasuries of wisdom, comprehend in small compass all possible human knowledge during this kalpa; that is to say, the key teachings which form those seven treasuries. They comprise everything that man has known, that humanity now knows, and that humanity can know, in this kalpa. They are, really, a short synopsis in the form of philosophical principles — these seven jewels — of all possible human knowledge; and it depends upon each one of us how much of that knowledge we can understand.
You probably also have noticed that not one of these jewels can be fully understood if considered alone. They complement each other and explain each other. Every one of them is explained by the other six; each one of them explains the other six and complements them. Please do not imagine for a moment that they are separate and distinct compartments of knowledge in the materialistic sense. There is but one knowledge, one truth, as there is but one life, and one ultimate being; but these various jewels, these seven jewels, are different facets, so to say, of that truth, different pillars, to change the figure, in the temple of divine wisdom.
It will be remembered that at our last study we spoke of two main reasons why the Teachers have kept these and other doctrines so secret, and why the penalties for betrayal of this knowledge were so great. First, because these teachings that we have been studying, and many others, derivatives from them, are the sublime reward of those who have proved themselves worthy of them and of going farther in behind the veil of life. But the greater reason is that they could not be understood by the untrained mind even were they told; they simply could not be understood. Great minds would understand more than would little minds, of course; but on account of the imperfect spiritual development of men's minds so far in this fourth round, men simply cannot understand them without at least some training, and the result of unlawful exposure of them would be degradation of the teachings which originally were given to men by the gods in the early ages of the human race.
This statement is no vain remark. These teachings have been betrayed in some degree at different times, and they have always resulted in what we call black magic, the natural result of a misunderstanding and of a misapplication of them and of the principles of truth which are in them. Even today we find men and women, although they know nothing whatever of these secret doctrines, going up and down the land, charging for their teachings on what they call spiritual realities, and professing to know everything in heaven and on earth. Note well that no true spiritual teacher ever charges money, or any other fee, for spiritual truths.
We all know what H. P. Blavatsky said about such action. "I would liefer starve in the gutter than take a penny for teaching spiritual truths." That is the test by which one may know, one of the tests at least, the true teacher from the false. That is one way in which a teaching may be degraded. Our Teachers have no desire to have these glorious doctrines misunderstood and degraded and, perhaps, human souls in relatively large numbers misled and their feet set upon the path which leads downward.
Now in Greece — we will take this case first as an example — there were two bodies of the Mysteries, the Less and the Greater. The Less, in Attica, were celebrated in the springtime; and the Greater were celebrated at about the period of the autumnal equinox, in September, at Eleusis. The Less consisted, first, of purifications of the soul and mind outwards and inwards, mostly inwards, for that is the real purification; and, second, of dramatizations of that which was to take place in actuality later in the Greater Mysteries. They represented in dramatic, pictorial form that which the Greater Mysteries were to bring to the candidates.
The Mysteries of Samothrace, also a Greek institution, and like those of Attica a State institution in the later days, were probably the oldest in Greece. But these two schools of the Mysteries, while teaching the same fundamental verities and the same ultimate truths, did not teach the same things. For instance, the Mysteries of Samothrace were what we today would rather call scientific. They dealt with the nature and operations of the Kabeiroi, who belonged to the class of spiritual entities called "builders," the lower septenary; whereas at Eleusis — and this name Eleusis means the "Advent" or the "Coming," and the Eleusinia "things that are to come" — at Eleusis the more theological and mystical doctrines were taught, more particularly that which will happen to man after death. Hence the name of the place, Eleusis, where they were celebrated, and the name of the Mysteries themselves, the Eleusinia, i.e., the things which shall be or shall come.
Each country had its own mystical jargon or dialect or manner of speaking of and in the various Mysteries; and with regard to the Mysteries in Greece and in Syria and in Palestine, these jargons or technical words nearly resembled each other. For instance, in Syria, outsiders were called swine and dogs; betrayers were called wolves. Those of you who remember your New Testament will probably remember the instances in which swine and dogs and, I think, also wolves are spoken of. Foxes was a term for those who tried to enter the Mysteries unlawfully. All these terms are taken from the attributes of certain animals, which man in unlawful action copied: the fox on account of its cunning; the wolf on account of its bold cruelty and lack of conscience — that is the reputation it has, at least; swine and dogs on account of the reputation that these beasts have always had in the Orient.
But while these terms were a part of the jargon of the Mysteries of those countries in those days, as was pointed out at our last meeting, it is not the language used in our School. I do not believe, as said, that Jesus ever called those who were not initiates in the Mysteries of his time "swine and dogs." If he did this, the presumption becomes a certainty that he did not belong to our School; but as he did so belong, we must conclude that such language came from his disciples living probably in Alexandria, where the Gospels were almost certainly composed and written in the form in which we now have them.
Next — and now we turn to the direct subject of our study, to our main theme, our main thought. Open wide your hearts; cast out for a short time from your minds all thoughts which are personal and unworthy of the atmosphere into which we are now entering. At our last study we took four technical words in order to explain somewhat by them our present great subject, talking around it rather than talking of it, four words used in the trans-Himalayan Buddhism because, first, they are the words which H. P. Blavatsky used; secondly, because they are the words which are in the esoteric books of the East belonging to our School. Three of these are, adi-buddha, the "primal wisdom," or Logos, as a Greek would say; then the dhyani-buddha, the "buddha of meditation or contemplation," of which buddhas there are seven; then the manushya, the "human buddha." But these three are all connected: the adi-buddha as the Logos, the dhyani-buddha as the causal buddha, the manushya-buddha as the agent on our plane of the celestial hierarchy. These buddhas belong to the celestial hierarchy as contrasted with the kosmic hierarchy or builders. The fourth word is bodhisattva.
At former meetings we have spoken of the planetary spirits, using this term in a general sense as equivalent to dhyani-chohans or lords of meditation. Now this evening we go a step farther. The planetaries are the builders of the astral-material world, and they draw their plan, and they draw their higher life, and they draw their wisdom (outside of that which they themselves have won) from the celestial hierarchy, the upper septenary; and this celestial hierarchy originates in adi-buddha, primordial buddha, or the Logos.
Now for each round of our septenary planetary cycle (that is of this kalpa, or Day of Brahma comprising all the seven rounds) there is a presiding dhyani-buddha, a buddha of contemplation, a causal buddha; and all the events of all the seven globes of our planetary chain are under the overseeing or supervision of the particular dhyani-chohan of that round. Our present round, being the fourth, is under the supervision of the dhyani-buddha belonging to the fourth degree of the celestial hierarchy. For each globe of the planetary chain there is what the Buddhists call a bodhisattva, a Sanskrit word meaning "he whose essence is wisdom."
This bodhisattva is a mind-born son, so to say, of the dhyani-buddha of that round. There is a dhyani-bodhisattva for this globe, and also one for each one of the three globes which precede this globe on the downward arc, and likewise a bodhisattva for each of the three globes which follow this globe on the upward arc — one bodhisattva for each. This dhyani-bodhisattva is the spiritual head of the spiritual-psychological hierarchy of each globe. Take our globe, for instance. Our dhyani-bodhisattva is the Wondrous Being, the Great Initiator, the Silent Watcher of our globe; in one sense an emanation from the dhyani-buddha overseeing all the round, but not merely an exudation or prolongation, if you will, of the dhyani-buddha. Each bodhisattva is an entity in himself. He is as a ray of that dhyani-buddha.
Next, during evolution on our earth (and on the other six globes correspondentially) the life-wave runs through seven stages called root-races. Each one of these root-races is ushered in by a manushya-buddha, a human buddha, who is the "son" of the globe-bodhisattva in the same way as the globe-bodhisattva is a "son" of the dhyani-buddha of the round. Each one of these seven root-races is furthermore divided at its middle point, so to speak. When half of its cycle is run, then the racial cataclysm ensues, for that is the way in which nature operates; and preceding that cataclysm there is another human buddha, or manushya-buddha, of less degree.
Is this Wondrous Being a man? He is. Is he more than a man? He is. Is he a septenary entity? He is. How is the influence of this Wondrous Being communicated to his agents, the human buddhas and the human bodhisattvas?
Let us study for a moment an allied subject, a psychological one, before we go farther. We cannot understand what comes to our theme farther on until we have at least sketched out this psychological subject. Man, as you know, is sevenfold. Man may be divided in a triform way: a spiritual man, an intermediate or highly ethereal man, and an astral-physical man. In other words and in "psychological" terms: (1) divine man, (2) spiritual man, (3) personal man. Now, then, what is an avatara? An avatara, as commonly supposed, is the descent of a god into a human form. That idea is exoteric. It is not false, but simply put in that way and with nothing more added in explanation it is very misleading.
You remember what Krishna says in the Bhagavad-Gita: "I incarnate in period after period in order to destroy wickedness and reestablish righteousness." Krishna there represents the Logos, or rather, perhaps, the logoic ray; and the Logos — or its ray or influence — on our plane would be utterly helpless, inactive, and have no possible means of communication with us and our sphere, because that logoic ray lacks an intermediate and fully conscious vehicle or carrier, i.e., it lacks the intermediate or highly ethereal mechanism, the spiritual-human in us, which in ordinary man is but slightly active. An avatara takes place when a direct ray from the Logos enters into, fully inspires, and illuminates, a human being, through the intermediary of a bodhisattva who has incarnated in that human being, thereby supplying the fit, ready, and fully conscious intermediate vehicle or carrier. This "human being" has no karmic ego of its own. The egoity, the ego, the intermediate part, the highly ethereal and fully conscious intermediary, the spiritual-human element, is supplied by the incarnating bodhisattva; that is to say, the highly evolved personal principles of a buddha, otherwise a nirmanakaya — not the highest element of that buddha, which is in nirvana, but the spiritual-personal element of the buddha, glorious, pure, and great, the spiritual-personal ego — enters into the body of that utterly pure human being before or shortly after its birth, and thus supplies the intermediate vehicle appropriate for the incarnation of the logoic ray. That is an avatara.
For instance, a child is born. That child has an inner psycho-astral nature of transparent purity and beauty and it attracts magnetically, if you like, but spiritually, actually, a ray from the Logos. Its own higher self is fully active, of course, and the logoic ray — which is ITSELF — manifests in it. Furthermore, a bodhisattva, under the conditions which prevail when an avatara is required on earth, enters that body also, thus supplying the egoic element. So, then, we have this marvelous thing: a pure human body with its prana and astral model-body, but with no true karmic ego incarnating, a bodhisattva supplying that egoic element of still greater purity than possible to ordinary men, and evolved to the degree required for the incarnation of the logoic or atmic ray, that logoic ray and the higher self of the born child really being one. But this mystery in life is a very exceptional circumstance.
Let us turn to another facet of the same psychological subject. Take the case of the Lord Buddha. Please notice that we here speak of the Lord Buddha, although we speak of the great man as Siddhartha, his personal name, and of the sage Gautama, or Gautama-Sakyamuni. Gautama was his family name; Sakya, his clan name; Sakyamuni, the Sakya sage, was the title given to him in later life and after. When Sakyamuni entered nirvana during life, he is then exoterically said to have "died" at the age of eighty years; but our teachings show him actually to have lived to one hundred years before he gave up his physical body and remained on earth as a nirmanakaya. We all know what a nirmanakaya is; it is a complete man minus the physical body only. But is that all there is of this wondrous mystery? It is not. The higher portions of the Buddha were in nirvana; yet the spiritual-personal ego remained on earth, active, an active entity, a force for spiritual good as a nirmanakaya, overshadowed by the nirvanic element, and this nirmanakaya was, please note carefully, a human bodhisattva. It is the teaching that this bodhisattva, the egoic element of the Buddha Gautama, as was the case with previous buddhas, was a spiritual-human ray from the globe dhyani-bodhisattva.
You perceive the difficulty, the extreme difficulty, in making these subtil and highly spiritual subjects clear to minds untrained in our metaphysic. Actually they require years of deep thought. Let us look at it from another aspect again. Who was Jesus? What was Jesus? Who was Apollonius of Tyana? What was he? The teaching is that both were incarnations of a nirmanakaya, and both had the same mysterious connection with the bodhisattva of the Buddha Gautama. Apollonius was not an avatara, though Jesus was. There are close psychological similarities between these two wonder-cases of history; but they are not identically the same mystery. I merely note here in passing that mystically a buddha stands higher than an avatara, for reasons which will be explained in due course of our study.
Let us go a step farther. You all have read of the incarnations of the buddhas in Tibet. We are now speaking in exoteric language, such as you will read in Sven Hedin or various others of the European explorers. Some of them have seen these so-called incarnations of the Buddha. Please understand once for all that our School is not Lamaism; our School is representative of the archaic, esoteric, wisdom of the world, although it is true on the other hand that the esoteric side of Tibetan Lamaism, properly understood, is the nearest doctrinal approach to the doctrines, in large degree, of our School. With all the faults that the Tibetans may have, with all the various drawbacks that we Westerners may consider them as having in one way or another, nevertheless the esoteric teaching in Tibet is nearer to that of our School than any other.
But how did this very curious and interesting doctrine of the continued reincarnations of the Buddha in the Tibetan Tashi-Lama and the Dalai-Lama, and in various others of the Buddhist hierarchy in various monasteries in Tibet, originate? It originated in the mother-doctrine that we are now studying. You will remember that H. P. Blavatsky speaks in the passage in The Secret Doctrine that we are now studying of an event that happened before the separation of the sexes in the third root-race, when a certain "spiritual being" incarnated in men; and she says that this was not a race but, after this Wondrous Being, became a succession of great spiritual entities. It is actually the passing on of the inner self, the ego if you like, the ethereal man, of that original Wondrous Being that came to humankind from superior spheres in order to enlighten and to save mankind, beginning with the third root-race — passing on down through the ages thereafter in vehicles of human flesh and mentality even to our present time. You will remember how she speaks of this Wondrous Being as a man, and yet not a man, one concerning whom legends are rife in the Orient. In all ages there have been mysterious allusions to the Master-Initiate, to the Great One, to the Head of all Teachers, to the Silent Watcher, to the Great Initiator, and so forth and so forth. Tibetan Lamaism drew this teaching of the continued reincarnations of the Buddha from that fact. This is an interesting question, and perhaps some day we shall investigate it more fully; but we cannot touch upon Tibetan Lamaism at greater length this evening.
It is necessary, however, to understand that the difference between the transmission of an egoic element as in the buddhaic line in Tibet, and those exceptional incarnations called the avataras, is in one sense great; and in another sense they are very much alike. They are very much alike in this, that in both cases the upadhi (or vehicle) chosen for the manifestation of the superior entity is a human being. Also in both cases the psycho-ethereal upadhi is a bodhisattva; that is to say, in the case of an avatara, the bodhisattva is the glorified personal man of a buddha, of a manushya-buddha; the lamaic succession is also bodhisattvic, but of inferior intensity, so to say — a bodhisattvic influence rather than a full incarnation of a bodhisattva, as in the case of an avatara.
The doctrines that students of Buddhism set forth in the books which they publish on Buddhism, in the West, are of course those that they derive from the Buddhist books themselves, usually with very inadequate understanding of the subtil points of that most spiritual of all religions; and unquestionably these scholars strive to understand and truthfully and honestly to set forth that which they believe to be the real meaning of Buddhist teachings. But it is an amazing thing that they do not succeed better; and the reason is that they come to their study with materialistic Western minds, materialistic Western preconceptions and prejudices. They come to their study in an attitude of mind which they themselves do not recognize as existing, and hence talk sagely — when they fail to grasp meanings — of the "superstitious extravagances of Oriental imagery," etc., etc. Now how is it possible to understand the real nature or the real essence of anything if you begin your study with the prepossessing idea that you know better and more than did the persons who wrote the things which you are studying? Such egoism destroys sympathy and obscures true vision; and if your study be of religious subjects, inevitably you will look upon all statements made or doctrines formulated as "monkish vagaries." But, as was pointed out in other studies, there is no exoteric doctrine belonging to the great ancient world religions which is intrinsically false. The fact is that the exoteric teaching is the truth, but it needs a key in order to explain it; and without the key it actually can be, and usually is, misunderstood and misinterpreted, and degraded in a manner very similar to that of which we spoke upon opening our study this evening.
Let us now turn to another subject connected with this, collateral, and showing another facet of the jewel. They tell us that the human buddha, the manushya-buddha Gautama-Sakyamuni, was born 643 years before the first year of the accepted beginning of the Christian era. Our doctrine tells us further that a human racial buddha comes at the beginning of, and a minor one preceding the middle point of, a root-race. I call your attention to the fact that we are now approaching the middle point of our fifth root-race. We are in the fourth subrace of that fifth root-race, not in the fifth subrace thereof. Please get this point clear in your minds. It will be between sixteen thousand and twenty thousand years yet before the racial cataclysm will ensue which will cut our fifth root-race in two, exactly as happened to the fourth-race Atlanteans and to the third-race Lemurians who preceded them; and as it will happen to the two root-races which will follow ours, the sixth and seventh.
Now the reason why some students have supposed that racially we are now in the fifth subrace is on account of a misinterpretation, very pardonable, it is true, because we all know that the subject of cycles and numbers is always closely veiled. This misinterpretation or misconception appears to have arisen from what H. P. Blavatsky writes in volume II of The Secret Doctrine on pages 435 and 445; and I desire to call your attention to the fact that one of the commonest "blinds" that a teacher is obligated to make when writing of esoteric matters in a public work is using the same word in varying senses. There is an esoteric obligation to do so when it is necessary, in order to tell the truth for those who can and who may read, and yet to hide it from the "dogs" and "swine" and "foxes," if you will forgive my use here of the New Testament or Syrian jargon. I call your attention in the above connection to The Secret Doctrine, volume I, page xliii: ". . . each Round being composed of the Yugas [Ages] of the seven periods [root-races] of Humanity; four of which are now passed in our life cycle, the middle point of the 5th being nearly reached." I call your attention also to page 610 of this same volume where H. P. Blavatsky says: "But as we are in the mid-point of our sub-race of the Fifth Root Race — the acme of materiality in each — therefore the animal propensities, though more refined," etc. The "acme of materiality in each" means only one thing — the middle point of the fourth of any cyclical series: for instance, the fourth primary subrace; the fourth subrace of the fourth primary subrace of the fifth root-race, and so forth.
Suppose that for convenience' sake we divide the races in the following way: root-race really meaning the first or root- or originating primary subrace, but commonly applied to all the seven successive primary subraces of a root-race and all the many other smaller subraces included in those seven. The first root-race then is the first primary subrace, of which primary subraces there are seven in the great racial cycle; then the secondary subrace, seven of them in each primary subrace; then seven family races in each secondary subrace; then seven national races in each family race. We need go no farther. A few steps more in the series and you will come to the unit-entity, or individual man. But please also examine page 147 and page 710 of volume II, for they will well repay your close study of them.
In another part of The Secret Doctrine you will remember that H. P. Blavatsky, in speaking of the precessional cycle of 25,920 years, here giving the ancient figures, calls it the cycle of a family race, that is to say, the race including seven national races. The European race is a family race; and hence when she speaks of the lifetime of this family race she says it has about 16,000 more years to run. So you see that from our ordinary human viewpoint we are not yet very near the great racial cataclysm; but from the standpoint of the cycles of the age of a root-race so short a period as 16,000 years is like saying tomorrow, or even the next hour. A short period of 16,000 or 20,000 years is insignificant in duration in the drama of the soul.
And H. P. Blavatsky somewhere — I think it was in her magazine Lucifer in 1887 or 1888 — alludes very graphically to the earthquakes then reported in the newspapers as occurring, and she calls them the forerunners of that which is going to happen to us as a race. But is America the home to be of the 6th subrace? Yes. Which subrace? Subrace is vague enough! Is it to be a sixth family race? But if America is then to be in about 16,000 years, or the latter part of a precessional cycle of 25,920 years from now, the home of the sixth family race, H. P. Blavatsky goes on immediately, in a masterly way, just as any initiate would, to lead the mind on, and she says that America is also to be the seed-land, the nursery, of the sixth root-race, a statement also true, but including a vast period of years between the two points! When that latter far-distant day dawns America will then no longer be. Much of the land of the Americas that is now above the waters will then be under them, and new land, now forming the sea bottom, will have arisen above its surface. For all we know, North and South America may be more widely united. New land will rise out of the present Pacific, thus raising the old Lemurian beds again, to be joined to us here on our western coasts.
So when we read of subraces let us beware, let us be careful, lest the molds of our minds, misleading us, lead us astray after mere words which are blinds. Break the molds of your minds at all costs! Free your minds, keep them plastic! Refuse to take as the sole truth any isolated statement whatsoever, wherever you may find it. Take it, but not alone; contrast it, compare it, study it, and analyze it if you want the truth. Especially is this necessary when it is a question of cycles, and of the words dealing with cycles. Watch carefully when you see the word subrace, watch carefully when you read of the Buddha. Which buddha? Or of the bodhisattva — which one?
So we postpone for a later and more extended study the subjects which we have attempted this evening to outline. Much more should and will be said about this Wondrous Being. But, in closing, do not misconstrue my words about this Wondrous Being. Remember the series: first, the Logos, the adi-buddha; then the seven dhyanis, each one of the seven inspiring and overseeing one of the seven rounds, who is the causal buddha, the sun, if you like, emanating out innumerable inferior beings. Then the dhyani-bodhisattvas, for each globe of the planetary chain, seven of them; and seven manushya-buddhas, one such for each one of the seven root-races on each globe during each round. There are probably almost numberless cases where a bodhisattva, a buddhic ray, as the cycles of time pass, reaches out from the Lodge of the Masters, where the Great Initiator, the Highest One, is, the Man-Emanation of the Wondrous Being, and inspires and instills the ancient wisdom into the soul of some great and pure human being, such as was Jesus of Nazareth, and Apollonius of Tyana, and many, many others whose names are not familiar to us Westerners.
And in the initiations there are three things that take place. They are directly connected with the subject of the Wondrous Being and the bodhisattvas. Remember that initiation is the quickening or enlivening of the soul of one who is prepared. It is a quickening process of evolution, for producing a more rapid evolving of the inner man, which otherwise an ordinary man would achieve only after many ages. In these initiations, and in the fifth, to particularize, there occurs what is called the theophany. The Christians use that word and also epiphany, which is a minor form of the same thing, and they say it should be celebrated on the 4th-6th of January, the matter having direct relation with the calendar of the solar year of which we spoke in our last study. Theophany originally meant the "appearance of a god." It actually is the following mystery: in the fifth initiation, the human being under trial, the chela under trial, meets his own god-self face to face, and for a longer or shorter time becomes one with it. He then knows truth. You will remember that the only way of really understanding a thing is to become that thing. And that is the real meaning of what takes place in the true, real initiations, and the epiphany is a minor manifestation of the theophany. It is a Greek word meaning "shining upon," or illuminating; whereas theophany means the "shining forth visibly of a god" — the man's own inner higher self.
If the theophany is more or less complete upon the ending of the initiation or the trial, the chela then has theopneusty, meaning "divine inspiration." He is consciously united with his inner god, his higher self. Literally, the inner god of the candidate breathes down into him, for a longer or shorter time, depending upon his advancement, the wisdom and the knowledge of all the universe, so to say, in degree greater or less, depending upon the candidate's advancement and receptivity.
The highest of all the ancient initiation achievements in Greece was called the theopathy, meaning "suffering a god" — not a god who suffers, but one who suffers the conscious entrance into him of a god. This is not, of course, an avatara, which is something else entirely, as we have shown above; but it means that at initiation and for a less or greater time afterwards, according to the spiritual power and receptivity of the initiate, he becomes, through that holy presence in him, a walking, living god, his own inner self. Finally, in some rare cases the theophany, the theopneusty, and the theopathy last as long as does the life on earth of the initiate.