Initiation, Human and Solar - Chapter IX - The Path of Initiation
By Alice Bailey
THE PATH OF INITIATION
After a longer or shorter period of time the disciple stands at the Portal of Initiation. We must remember that as one approaches this portal and draws nearer to the Master it is as says "Light on the Path," with the feet bathed in the blood of the heart. Each step up is ever through the sacrifice of all that the heart holds dear on one plane or another, and always must this sacrifice be voluntary. He who treads the Probationary Path and the Path of Holiness is he who has counted the cost, whose sense of values has been readjusted, and who therefore judges not as judges the man of the world. He is the man who is attempting to take the "kingdom by violence," and in the attempt is prepared for the consequent suffering. He is the man who counts all things but loss if he may but win the goal, and who, in the struggle for the mastery of the lower self by the higher, is willing to sacrifice even unto death.
The first two Initiations
At the first initiation, the control of the Ego over the physical body must have reached a high degree of attainment. "The sins of the flesh," as the Christian phraseology has it, must be dominated; gluttony, drink, and licentiousness must no longer hold sway. The physical elemental will no longer find its demand obeyed; the control must be complete and the lure departed. A general attitude of obedience to the Ego must have been achieved, and the  willingness to obey must be very strong. The channel between the higher and the lower is widened, and the obedience of the flesh practically automatic.
That all initiates measure not up to this standard may be ascribed to several things, but the note they sound should be on the side of righteousness; the recognition of their own shortcomings which they will evidence will be sincere and public, and their struggle to conform to the highest standard will be known, even though perfection may not be achieved. Initiates may, and do, fall, and thereby incur the working of the law in punishment. They may, and do, by this fall injure the group, and thereby incur the karma of readjustment, having to expiate the injury through later prolonged service, wherein the group members themselves, even though unconsciously, apply the law; their progress will be seriously hindered, much time being lost in which they must work out the karma with the injured units. The very fact that a man is an initiate, and therefore the medium for force of a greatly increased kind, makes his lapses from the straight path to have more powerful effects than is the case with a less advanced man; his retribution and punishment will be equally greater. Inevitably he must pay the price before he is allowed to proceed further upon the Way. As for the group he injures, what should their attitude be? A recognition of the gravity of the error, a wise acceptance of the facts in the case, a refraining from unbrotherly criticism, and a pouring out of love upon the sinning brother: all this, coupled with such action as will make clear to the onlooking general public that such sins and infringements of the law are not condoned. To this must be added an attitude of mind within the group concerned which will lead them (whilst taking firm action) to help the mistaken brother to see his error, to work out the retributive karma, and then to reinstate him  in their regard and respect when due amends have been made.
All people do not develop exactly along the same or parallel lines, and therefore no hard or fast rules can be laid down as to the exact procedure at each initiation, or as to just what centers; are to be vivified, or what vision is to be accorded. So much depends upon the ray of the disciple, or his development in any particular direction (people do not usually develop evenly), upon his individual karma, and also upon the exigencies of any special period. This much can be suggested, however: At the first initiation, that of the birth of the Christ, the heart center is the one usually vivified, with the aim in view of the more effective controlling of the astral vehicle, and the rendering of greater service to humanity. After this initiation the initiate is taught principally the facts of the astral plane; he has to stabilize his emotional vehicle and learn to work on the astral plane with the same facility and ease as he does on the physical plane; he is brought in contact with the astral devas; he learns to control the astral elementals; he must function with facility on the lower subplanes, and the value and quality of his work on the physical plane becomes of increased worth. He passes, at this initiation, out of the Hall of Learning into the Hall of Wisdom. At this time, emphasis is consistently laid on his astral development, although his mental equipment grows steadily.
Many lives may intervene between the first initiation and the second. A long period of many incarnations may elapse before the control of the astral body is perfected, and the initiate is ready for the next step. The analogy is kept in an interesting way in the New Testament in the life of the initiate Jesus. Many years elapsed between the Birth and the Baptism, but the remaining three steps were taken in three years. Once the second initiation is taken  the progress will be rapid, the third and fourth following probably in the same life, or the succeeding.
The second initiation forms the crisis in the control of the astral body. Just as, at the first initiation, the control of the dense physical has been demonstrated, so here the control of the astral is similarly demonstrated. The sacrifice and death of desire has been the goal of endeavor. Desire itself has been dominated by the Ego, and only that is longed for which is for the good of the whole, and in the line of the will of the Ego, and of the Master. The astral elemental is controlled, the emotional body becomes pure and limpid, and the lower nature is rapidly dying. At this time the Ego grips afresh the two lower vehicles and bends them to his will. The aspiration and longing to serve, love, and progress become, so strong that rapid development is usually to be seen. This accounts for the fact that this initiation and the third, frequently (though not invariably) follow each other in one single life. At this period of the world's history such stimulus has been given to evolution that aspiring souls - sensing the dire and crying need of humanity - are sacrificing all in order to meet that need.
Again, we must not make the mistake of thinking that all this follows in the same invariable consecutive steps and stages. Much is done in simultaneous unison, for the labor to control is slow and hard, but in the interim between the first three initiations some definite point in the evolution of each of the three lower vehicles has to be attained and held, before the further expansion of the channel can be safely permitted. Many of us are working on all the three bodies now, as we tread the Probationary Path.
At this initiation, should the ordinary course be followed, (which again is not at all certain) the throat center is vivified. This causes a capacity to turn to account in the Master's service, and for the helping of man, the attainments  of the lower mind. It imparts the ability to give forth and utter that which is helpful, possibly in the spoken word, but surely in service of some kind. A vision is accorded of the world's need, and a further portion of the plan shown. The work, then, to be done prior to the taking of the third initiation, is the complete submerging of the personal point of view in the need of the whole. It entails the complete domination of the concrete mind by the Ego.
The succeeding two Initiations
After the second initiation the teaching shifts up a plane. The initiate learns to control his mental vehicle; he develops the capacity to manipulate thought matter, and learns the laws of creative thought building. He functions freely on the four lower subplanes of the mental plane, and before the third initiation he must, - consciously or unconsciously, - be complete master of the four lower subplanes in the three planes of the three worlds. His knowledge of the microcosm becomes profound, and he has mastered theoretically and practically, in great measure, the laws of his own nature, hence his ability experimentally to be master on the four lower subplanes of the physical, astral, and mental planes. The last fact is of interest. The control of the three higher subplanes is not yet complete, and here is one of the explanations as to the failures and mistakes of initiates. Their mastery of matter in the three higher subplanes is not yet perfect; these yet remain to be dominated.
At the third initiation, termed sometimes the Transfiguration, the entire personality is flooded with light from above. It is only after this initiation that the Monad is definitely guiding the Ego, pouring his divine life ever more into the prepared and cleansed channel, just as in the third, or Moon Chain, the Ego individualized the personality  through direct contact, a method different to the individualization as shown in this fourth chain. The law of correspondences, if applied here, might prove very revealing, and might demonstrate an interesting analogy between the methods of individualizing in the various chains, and the expansions of consciousness that occur at the different initiations.
Again, a vision is accorded of what lies ahead; the initiate is in a position at all times to recognize the other members of the Great White Lodge, and his psychic faculties are stimulated by the vivification of the head centers. It is not necessary nor advisable to develop the synthetic faculties, or clairaudience and clairvoyance, until after this initiation. The aim of all development is the awakening of the spiritual intuition; when this has been done, when the physical body is pure, the astral stable and steady, and the mental body controlled, then the initiate can safely wield and wisely use the psychic faculties for the helping of the race. Not only can he use these faculties, but he is able now to create and vivify thought-forms that are clear and well-defined, pulsating with the spirit of service and not controlled by lower mind or desire. These thought-forms will not be (as is the case with those created by the mass of men) disjointed, unconnected, and uncorrected, but will attain a fair measure of synthesis. Hard and ceaseless must the work be before this can be done, but when the desire nature has been stabilized and purified, then the control of the mind-body comes more easily. Hence the path of the devotee is easier in some ways than that of the intellectual man, for he has learnt the measures of purified desire, and progresses by the requisite stages.
The personality has now reached a point where its vibrations are of a very high order, the matter in all three bodies relatively pure, and its apprehension of the work to be done in the microcosm, and the share to be taken in the  work of the macrocosm is very advanced. It is apparent, therefore, why it is only at the third initiation that the great Hierophant, the Lord of the World, himself officiates. It is the first at which he contacts the initiate. Earlier it would not be possible. For the first two initiations the Hierophant is the Christ, the World Teacher, the Firstborn among many brethren, one of the earliest of our humanity to take initiation. Browning brings out this thought most beautifully in the words found in his poem "Saul":
...It shall be
A face like my face that receives thee;
a Man like to me,
Thou shalt love and be loved by, forever;
A Hand like this hand
Shall throw open the gates of new life to thee!
See the Christ stand!
But when the initiate has made still further progress, and has taken two initiations, a change comes. The Lord of the World, the Ancient of Days, the ineffable Ruler himself administers the third initiation. Why has this become possible? Because now the fully consecrated physical body can safely bear the vibrations of the two other bodies when they return to its shelter from the Presence of the KING; because now the purified astral and controlled mental can safely stand before that KING. When purified and controlled they stand and for the first time consciously vibrate to the Ray of the Monad, then with prepared bodies can the ability to see and hear on all the planes be granted and achieved, and the faculty of reading and comprehending the records be safely employed, for with fuller knowledge comes added power. The heart is now sufficiently pure and loving, and the intellect sufficiently stable to stand the strain of knowing.
Before the fourth initiation can be taken, the work of  training is intensified, and the hastening and accumulation of knowledge has to be unbelievably rapid. The initiate has frequent access to the library of occult books, and after this initiation he can contact not only the Master with whom he is linked and with whom he has worked consciously for a long time, but he can contact and assist (in measure) the Chohans, the Bodhisattva, and the Manu. He has also to grasp the laws of the three lower planes intellectually, and likewise wield them for the aiding of the scheme of evolution. He studies the cosmic plans and has to master the charts; he becomes versed in occult technicalities and develops fourth dimensional vision, if he has not already done so. He learns to direct the activities of the building devas, and at the same time, he works continually at the development of his spiritual nature. He begins rapidly to coordinate the buddhic vehicle, and in its coordination he develops the power of synthesis, at first in small measure, and gradually in fuller detail.
By the time the fourth initiation is taken the initiate has mastered perfectly the fifth subplane, and is therefore adept, - to use a technical phrase, - on the five lower subplanes of the physical, astral, and mental planes, and is well on the way to master the sixth. His buddhic vehicle can function on the two lower subplanes of the buddhic plane.
The life of the man who takes the fourth initiation, or the Crucifixion, is usually one of great sacrifice and suffering. It is the life of the man who makes the Great Renunciation, and even exoterically it is seen to be strenuous, hard, and painful. He has laid all, even his perfected personality, upon the altar of sacrifice, and stands bereft of all. All is renounced, friends, money, reputation, character, standing in the world, family, and even life itself. 
The final Initiations
After the fourth initiation not much remains to be done. The domination of the sixth subplane goes forward with rapidity, and the matter of the higher subplanes of the buddhic is coordinated. The initiate is admitted into closer fellowship in the Lodge, and his contact with the devas is more complete. He is rapidly exhausting the resources of the Hall of Wisdom, and is mastering the most intricate plans and charts. He becomes adept in the significance of color and sound, can wield the law in the three worlds, and can contact his Monad with more freedom than the majority of the human race can contact their Egos. He is in charge, also, of large work, teaching many pupils, aiding in many schemes, and is gathering under him those who are to assist him in future times. This refers only to those who stay to help humanity on this globe; we will deal later with some of the lines of work that stretch before the Adept if he passes away from earth service.
After the fifth initiation the man is perfected as far as this scheme goes, though he may, if he will, take two further initiations.
To achieve the sixth initiation the Adept has to take a very intensive course in planetary occultism. A Master wields the law in the three worlds, whilst a Chohan of the sixth initiation wields the law in the chain on all levels; a Chohan of the seventh initiation wields the law in the solar system.
It will be apparent that, should he search these subjects with application, the student will find much that concerns him personally, even though the ceremony itself may be far ahead. By the study of the process and the purpose he may become aware of the great fundamental fact that the method of initiation is the method of: 
The initiate of every degree, from the humble initiate of the first degree, making for the first time his contact with a certain type of specialized force, up to the emancipated Buddha of the seventh degree, is dealing with energy of some kind or other. The stages of development of the aspirant might be expressed as follows:
The application of the Rod of Initiation at the first two initiations by the Bodhisattva enables the initiate to control and utilize the force of the lower self, the true sanctified energy of the personality in service; at the third initiation the application of the Rod by the One Initiator makes available in a vastly more extensive manner the force of the higher self or Ego, and brings into play on the physical plane the entire energy stored up during numerous incarnations  in the causal vehicle. At the fourth initiation the energy of his egoic group becomes his to use for the good of planetary evolution, and at the fifth initiation the force or energy of the planet (esoterically understood, and not merely the force or energy of the material globe) is at his disposal. During these five initiations those two great beings, the Bodhisattva first, and then the One Initiator, the Lord of the World, Sanat Kumara, are the administrators or hierophants. After these ceremonies, should the initiate choose to take the two final initiations which it is possible to take in this solar system, a still higher type of energy in expression of the one Self comes into play, and can only be hinted at. At the seventh initiation that one of whom Sanat Kumara is the manifestation, the Logos of our scheme on his own plane, becomes the Hierophant. At the sixth initiation the expression of this Existence on an intermediate plane, a Being who must at present remain nameless, wields the Rod and administers the oath and secret. In these three expressions of hierarchical government - Sanat Kumara on the periphery of the three worlds, the nameless One on the confines of the high planes of human evolution, and the planetary Spirit himself at the final stage - we have the three great manifestations of the Planetary Logos himself. Through the Planetary Logos at the final great initiation flows the power of the Solar Logos, and he it is who reveals to the initiate that the Absolute is consciousness in its fullest expression, though at the stage of human existence the Absolute must be regarded as unconsciousness.
Each of the great initiations is but the synthesis of the smaller ones, and only as man seeks ever to expand his consciousness in the affairs of daily life can he expect to achieve those later stages which are but culminations of the many earlier. Students must get rid of the idea that if they are "very good and altruistic" suddenly some day  they will stand before the Great Lord. They are putting effect before cause. Goodness and altruism grow out of realization and service, and holiness of character is the outcome of those expansions of consciousness which a man brings about within himself through strenuous effort and endeavor. Therefore it is here and now that man can prepare himself for initiation, and this he does, not by dwelling upon the ceremonial aspect, as so many do in excited anticipation, but by working systematically and enduringly at the steady development of the mental body, by the strenuous and arduous process of controlling the astral body so that it becomes responsive to three vibrations: