Joseph J. Weed
From the earliest times nearly every religious sect has required the candidate for admission to undergo some sort of purifacatory rite. Most often a symbolical washing with water took place although there are some ancient records which tell of purification by fire, and even by air in times long ago. Because water conveys the idea of cleansing it has been employed in most ceremonies. Today both the Christian and Jewish religions include water in their rites.
The Christian ceremony is called Baptism. It is said that the present form of Baptism, the pouring of water over the head of the petitioner, was introduced by the Master Morya. The Master would lead the candidate into the water of Lake Moeris in Egypt and walk along with him until the water was about up to their knees. Then, with a prayer, He would take a cup or shell full of water and pour it over the candidate's head. This rite was performed before the baptism of Christ in the Jordan, and it is said that John the Baptist had learned from the Master Morya the technique which he used at that time and which is used in varying forms by all Christian sects right down to the present day.
The Christian religion states that Baptism is an outward form which conceals but symbolizes an interior grace. All sins are forgiven, washed away, by Baptism and the newly admitted candidate is thus pure and clean in a spiritual sense. This is the conventional interpretation of Baptism, the sacrament, but it is our intention today to discuss Baptism from the esoteric point of view, to discuss the initiation which is called the "Baptism in the Jordan", the second major initiation.
The first major initiation is called esoterically, "The Birth of Christ" This refers to the awakening of Christ consciousness in the individual. This, the first major initiation, frequently takes place without the conscious realization of the physical brain. Yet the initiate is soon aware of a change in his outlook on life, his attitude to himself, to his fellowmen, to circumstances and to his interpretation of life events. This new viewpoint, which is the result of increased soul-activity, creates a conflict within the individual between the material and spiritual sides of fits nature.
Most people who are mystically inclined, and this means nearly all serious Rosicrucian students, are either initiates of the first degree, even though they may not be actively conscious of the fact, or probationers awaiting the first initiation. The initial turning away from the material and the awakening interest in the spiritual is the first sign. The applicant thus becomes a probationary disciple. His face is now turned toward the light and his aspiration has brought to him the opportunity to take the steps which will enable him to enter the light of Cosmic Consciousness. At a certain point in this progress, an assent is given, a judgment made, a decision is reached by the applicant which places him permanently and irrevocably upon the path. From this point onward there is no turning back. This is the major determining factor of the first major initiation. It is sometimes romantically referred to as "giving one's life to God". When one becomes a religious in any sect, in any religion, this same phrase is often used, and it is true that the serious minded religious, one with what is referred to as a "real vocation" is almost always an initiate of at least the first degree.
Prior to the first initiation the major problem lies in attracting the attention of the individual to the higher things, toward the spiritual and away from the material. This is a long slow process requiring many, many lives, but once the objective is achieved and the interest and attention of the seeker are focussed firmly toward the light and the first initiation has been taken, then progress becomes more rapid.
This progress is not immediately apparent. The young initiate finds little difference in the life he leads and the experiences he meets. If anything, life becomes more difficult. Misfortune seems to strike more often and more violently, tensions increase and temptations to fall back into the material life are greater. This is possibly the most difficult of all periods, the testing period between the first and second major initiations, and it usually carries over several life times. These tests are mostly in the emotional realm. True, at first they all involve actual physical happenings, but the pressures involved and the decisions necessary are largely concerned with emotional factors. Since most of us are emotionally focussed this is the very area that presents the greatest difficulty and the most problems.
At first the initiate will fall far more often than he succeeds. The potency of his material nature is such that it will often override his highest aspirations and best intentions. But gradually, as he meets test after test, his vehicles become more refined, the physical and emotional natures have less and less pull, until finally he begins to achieve successes where he previously experienced failures.
At this point the life of the initiate usually undergoes a pronounced re-orientation. He now becomes devoted to a program of aspiration and desire to do good, or what he then sees as "good". This is symbolized for us in the story of the twelve year old Christ Who was so conscious that "He must be about His Father's business" that He defied His parents, caused them distress and astonished the elders by His spiritual poise and knowledge. A somewhat similar attitude, but without the developed understanding of Jesus, now frequently expresses itself in the disciple during the period when this new orientation is taking place. The desire to see good accomplished sometimes leads him to extremes and it is at this point that fanaticism and other similar errors occur.
But all this time the disciple is learning to discipline his lower nature and to achieve a measure of mastery over his physical inclinations, thus releasing physical energy and bringing order into his life. During this period he must constantly fight his lower nature as he finds the interests and demands of his soul in constant opposition to the requirements of his animal nature and increasingly to his emotional nature.
It might be pointed out here that at the present stage of humanity's development, no initiate demonstrates complete control during the intermediate period between any initiation and the next higher initiation. This intermediate period is the "cycle of perfecting". That which is being left behind and subordinated to a higher realization is slowly dominated by energies which are to be released in full into the consciousness of the initiate at the initiation for which he is being prepared. For example, in the probationary period, prior to the first initiation, flashes of soul light and of cosmic consciousness are permitted the aspirant. He begins to see the beauty of the higher life and contrast it to the low grade glamour of the material world. Finally, he makes a decision, a mighty resolve, to seek only the spiritual and he petitions the Cosmic for help in his quest. This decision is the factor which brings him into alignment for initiation at the next available opportunity. He may not be (indeed probably is not) conscious of the initiatory experience, but from that moment onward his life proceeds in a new direction.
This is symbolized for us in the tales of the Knights of the Round Table. All were loyal servants of King Arthur, yet only a few set out to find the Holy Grail. Before starting they each participated in a special ceremony wherein the King had them renew their vows and charged them with a definite responsibility. This is a symbol of the first initiation. You all know the stories of the tests and difficulties each Knight met on his quest. And as you know, only one found the Grail, the symbol of complete Cosmic Consciousness, and of the third initiation, and he was Sir Galahad whose "strength was as the strength of ten because his heart was pure".
This interim period symbolized by the search of Galahad and the other Knights is always one of great difficulty. The energies being registered, made active and finally used, are steadily increasing in number and potency. For the student is dealing with energies here, as always. His aspirations stir the energies and his own awareness to a point where he begins to recognize them for what they are. As they begin to manifest themselves, these energies have a profound effect upon the initiate's physical life and environment. Things change and often these changes are regarded as calamitous misfortunes by the aspiring one. Eventually, however, the initiate begins to grasp the pattern which is emerging. He learns to use the energy properly and once controlled it no longer has the power to control him. When this point is reached he is ready for the next step, the next initiation.
The initiatory process between the first and second initiations is for most people the worst time of distress and difficulty. This is a time of meeting problems, resolving them, and of a constant effort to cleanse oneself. "The storm aroused by his emotional nature, the dark clouds and mists in which he constantly walks and which he himself has created over the many lives he has lived have all to be cleared away in order that the initiate may be able to say that for him the glamour of the emotional or desire world no longer exists." Then all that remains of it is the higher form, the aspiration to the Cosmic, the divine love and goodwill to all. For this reason the second major initiation is symbolized as a cleansing process and called the "Baptism".
There are many people alive today who are qualifying for the experience of the second initiation, that of the purifying Baptism. These are the people who express the essential qualities of the ability to recognize divine ideas and to distinguish them from their earthly reflections, who express a devoted adherence to truth as they sense it, who manifest a profound appreciation of the physical disciplines and a growing responsiveness to the higher aspiration of their emotional natures which reaches out toward contact and eventual fusion with the Cosmic Principle.
Thus, under the influence of increasing Cosmic contact the emotional and aspirational nature of the initiate become quieter and more controlled through the agency of the mind. When this state of consciousness has been achieved and the "waters" of the astral body are quiet, they can then reflect the beautiful and true. When the emotions have been purified by intense self effort, then the disciple can step into the baptismal waters and become subjected to the intense purificatory experience which, it is said, now enables him "for ever to step out of the waters and no longer be in danger of drowning or of submergence". He can now (after experiencing the second initiation) walk up on the waters as symbolized by Christ, and "proceed with safety onward towards his goal".
There are thousands alive today who are experiencing the tests and trials preliminary to the second initiation. For them in particular these are most trying and difficult times. They are meeting what the Master M. calls "the divine obstacles" and having met and overcome them, they will be cleaner and stronger and ready then for "the Baptism in the Jordan". That this may be your good fortune is my prayer for all of you.
Joseph J. Weed
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A Rosicrucian Speaks
Joseph J. Weed
Copyright: The Chatsworth Press
January 19, 2014