There is a road, steep and thorny, and beset with perils of every kind, but yet a road, and it leads to the heart of the Universe. I can tell you how to find Those who will show you the secret gateway that leads inward only, and closes fast behind the neophyte for evermore. There is no danger that dauntless courage cannot conquer; there is no trial that spotless purity cannot pass through; there is no difficulty that strong intellect cannot surmount. For those who win onward, there is reward past all telling: the power to bless and serve humanity. For those who fail, there are other lives in which success may come. — Editorial in Lucifer, vol. 9
The purpose of all initiatory ceremonies — . . . the aim of all initiatory teachings of the ancient Mystery-Schools was . . . the evocation of the higher self, of this inner being; and it is possible to do it. A strong and indomitable will is the first requisite. Purity of life is the second, mental purity above everything else. And absolute loyalty and devotion to the teachings of the Esoteric Wisdom and to the Teacher, is the third. — G. de Purucker, Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, p. 361
Perhaps the greatest boon that theosophy bestows is the conviction that at last we actually know where we are going. Unlike the unhappy, drifting, bewildered mass of human beings, the earnest and sincere student of occultism has a definite objective. No matter how far in the future it may be, the student knows that sometime, as surely as the sun rises every day, the privilege of trying for initiation into the mysteries of occult nature will come, promising the radiant moment of reunion with the higher self. Never again will there be really uncertainty, laziness, or morally incompetence. There is something absorbingly interesting and worthwhile to work for, and the opportunity to press joyfully onward, serving with those noble helpers who are in advance of the human race, towards that spiritual perfection which shall enable the striver to draw the whole of humanity itself a fraction farther onward along our difficult evolutionary way. The sun, moving ever forward through its steadfast orbit draws all its planets year by year into new spaces of the universe. So do we, steadfastly following the path of occult progress, draw forward all those who are united to us in the bonds of spiritual brotherhood. Every human problem and every human sorrow will be just that much clearer and lighter because the chela as an individual has been able to make the goal.
Furthermore, in following the path of initiation the chela, either lay or accepted, is embarking upon a splendid adventure. Life for the average person is so dull. There is hardly one man or woman in a million who is not more or less a slave to some crippling limitation of environment. Aldous Huxley says somewhere that modern man is everywhere intensely bored with life. And does it not seem logical to conclude that the prevalence of crime amongst the young is largely due to these crippling environments which offer no scope for individual initiative, and which surround the effervescing energies of the young with little but the intensely commonplace?
Now, in exchange for this drabness, what does initiation offer us? To reiterate the words of a teacher, it shows us how to invoke the peace and power and guidance of the higher self. It changes us "into becoming the bird of eternity." In other words, it sets us free. It opens the doors out of the cage of our personality. It shows us how then to spread our spiritual wings which now lie so feeble and closely folded from disuse — and, escaping from our physical and psychological limitations, to fare forth upon the highways of the cosmos.
To the highest initiates there are no closed doors in the universe. The inner worlds, with all their strange and fresh and wondrous realms, lie open before them. For their training has developed in them that piercing spiritual vision to which G. de Purucker so often refers. Theirs are the strong faculties and the mighty spiritual pinions that can carry them to the very innermost portals of the spiritual sun.
A further passage may show in slightly more detail what initiation implies. The writer begins by describing the greatest event in the history of our globe — the awakening in man of self-conscious humanhood:
This our "awakening" was called by H. P. Blavatsky, the incarnation of the Manasaputras, or the Sons of Mind, or Light. Had that incarnation not taken place, we indeed should have continued our evolution by merely "natural" causes, but it would have been slow almost beyond comprehension, almost interminable; but that act of self-sacrifice, through their immense pity, their immense love, though, indeed, acting under Karmic impulse, awakened the divine fire in our own selves, gave us light and comprehension and understanding; so from that time we ourselves became the "Sons of the Gods"; the faculty of self-consciousness in us was awakened, our eyes were opened, responsibility became ours; and our feet were then set definitely upon the path . . . leading inwards back to our spiritual home.
. . . initiation is in fact a quickening process, but it is also something else; it is a copy, an endeavor to copy, what was done by the incarnation of those Lords of Understanding, Sons of Light. It is an attempt to stimulate, to awaken into activity, the inner spiritual Self, to enliven us more quickly, to enable us to see and understand, saving those who successfully pass through the tests aeons and aeons of suffering and strife, and, noblest of all, enabling those whose minds have become enlightened, themselves to do the same for their brothers who are less progressed than they. — G. de Purucker, Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, pp. 258-9
Moreover, in following the path of initiation under a spiritual teacher who is part of the Brotherhood of Compassion, we knit ourselves into the Great White Lodge and its work. To the extent that we then become chelas in spirit and try sincerely to live the chela-life, we become a vital part of that Brotherhood. We have ceased to be wanderers. We have found our true place in the universal plan. We learn who we are, where we came from, whither we are bound and, the best and quickest way to get there. Suffering no longer daunts us, for it becomes a gateway to freedom.
Even beyond all this, however, is the immediate power initiation will give aspirants to help and bless others. Not only will their mere presence spread protection and balm and inspiration, they will eventually become a part of the living Guardian Wall which surrounds humanity. The significance of this statement will be clear from the following:
These sages are sometimes called the Guardian Wall, for they form in fact a living, spiritual and intellectual wall of protection around mankind, guarding men against whatever evils men themselves are unable, because of ignorance, to ward off or to neutralize. Yet such guarding is always in strict accordance with the dominant karma of humanity, against which, even the great sages can no more work than against any one of the other laws of nature. They are in utter fidelity the servants of the universal mother in her spiritual, causative functions. They help men, they inspire and protect whenever they can, and in such fashion as their profound knowledge of the karmic chain of cause and effect in which humanity is entangled permits them to do. Thus it is that they serve the humanity over which they stand as elder brothers and guides. — G. de Purucker, The Esoteric Tradition, 3rd & rev. ed., p. 492
From the foregoing pages it will easily be seen that for the various stages of initiatory training an adept-teacher is necessary. Even students of mere physical science must have long preparation, with help and guidance from an expert, if they aim to do serious research work in a well equipped laboratory. So likewise must advanced chelas, who aspire to the difficult and perilous occult highways which lead to initiation, have the guidance and help of a spiritual expert or adept to watch over and direct their progress. They must of course do the work themselves. A child must learn to walk, and talk, and use its own faculties no matter how much help it may have. Chelas must Themselves develop the higher spiritual and the lower psychic clairvoyance and the other inner senses and powers which enable them to adventure and learn in these new fields of life. But in order that they may not go astray and that their efforts may be of the highest efficiency, they will naturally need the suggestions and guidance of a Master of Life.
All this may seem very remote to those who, like you and me, regard ourselves as quite average and commonplace men and women. Yet does not our intense determination to find the meaning of things lift us out of the average? Most assuredly it does. There has reached the inner ear of every sincere searcher a whisper from the heart of the universe. No one who has once heard that still, small voice — "the voice of the silence" — and known the divine nostalgia which it inspires in the soul, will ever again be content with the husks of material or merely intellectual satisfactions.
One of the most beautiful things about a knowledge of these truths is that they exalt the commonplace of everyday. No matter how difficult or uninspiring the daily grind may be, when one thinks and lives and feels in the atmosphere of occult truth, every form of drudgery will be suffused with the buddhic splendor. No matter how tied down or weary the body, the person will be free. The very act of doing faithfully and impersonally each small duty will itself be a first step on the pathway of initiation, for all that a student of occultism does will be self-consciously dedicated to impersonal service. In addition, we will know why we are doing it. Not having any egotistical demands as to the result, we will be able to do it a hundred percent better than formerly. Understanding reincarnation and karma; knowing that our feet are set irrevocably upon the right path; possessing in our mind and heart the esoteric keys to the sanctuary — the man or woman so humbly and faithfully working is literally a companion and co-worker with the gods.