GALVANIZING TO MIRACLE
The root purpose of the Sabian work is the developing of that higher or invisible fellowship in which all of us whether student or leader shall have the privilege of a quiet standing-by that characterizes those exalted ones on whom we count in turn for this galvanizing to miracles of accomplishment and self-giving. Here is a gift of self for which some seekers may struggle until the long and weary days of seeking through endless years of effort if not actually several incarnations have stirred up that pain of yearning without which occultism is merely some cult or justification of freakishness or hypocrisy. The feeling of vast power within the self must be carried beyond ideas that form no more than a parquetry of words because otherwise the self must remain in bondage to any faulty or inadequate expectation and the living must be limited by the pettiness of surface realization.
Occultism asks miracle but not in subjective realms that have emphasis in fantastic initiation ceremonies or in objective ideas quickened by the charlatanry that exploits a sheer gullibility. True miracle springs from the life lifted above its own capacity through an ensoulment by the race itself. Occultism is a fellowship of pain and a gaining of cosmic sympathy that loses separative selfhood completely in the pyramided totality of immortal and perfect assimilation. Here is no appeal to the soul seeking an escape from unsatisfactory reality but a call to the soul desiring not only to conserve reality but to be participant in greater and greater reality. The student who makes as serious a mistake as to enter the occult with part of himself is fated to be divided indeed, but the seeker who with all-giving lifts his eye to the agony of cosmic service is fated to know a sweet happiness.
The miracle of invisible fellowship is achieving beyond one's individual capacity and thus participating in ever greater and greater reality.
THE INVISIBLE SUSTAINMENT
One of the most common errors in the thinking of student minds is an assumption that an invisible sustainment is the graciously extended personal and alien or exterior act of a superior intelligence of some sort or other. In actuality the organism of the higher group is like that of a physical body or the individual group in that it remains at all times a definite or integral whole. The sustainment, in like case, that any one part of the visible body receives from participation in the entity is never the act of some other part as an external or alien superior but rather is the act all together of every part or an act as a part of a whole that is functioning totally.
In the invisible fellowship we neither give nor receive, in any usual sense. We give to the whole and receive from that whole as a reciprocity in totality. The exchange of things in sharp giving and taking, with all the difficulty of keeping such equitable and making every score as even as possible, is a phenomenon of the visible or common realm of separation or the world of sense. The higher is that all for one and one for all reality that alone is to be called eternal and identified as spiritual. Invisible sustainment is not of the low order of gifts visualized in terms of things but is the response of an eternal reality to its recognition or acceptance. Nothing seems much more difficult for the new seeker to grasp than this. It is what the enlistment form for the regular monthly contributions expresses with a handicap of inadequate language, and in a broad way I might say that a group such as ours has no actuality of existence except as it is built on a mutuality of invisible sustainment. We have our superiors in an invisible scheme of reality but never superiors in remoteness.
The invisible fellowship is a mutuality of sustainment, the response of the whole to one's recognition of his participation in the wholeness.
THE EQUALITY OF SOULS
Men are created free and equal only in a capacity to become fellows with one another in their various relationships, but they are neither free of the necessity for perfecting the relationships nor equal in any lack of distinction or differentiation such as requires a mutuality of contribution of services to each other in and through the fellowship. The equality of souls is in their potential that ever is and always will be, and not in any immediateness of expression that is always a transient or unstable reality. We make the mistake of working for a superficial likeness among men and to that end by an attempt to level off the outstanding and genuine expressions of soul as if the halting and laggard individuality could in that way be held in fellowship. We hail a pseudouniversality of relationship as manifest in an ease of gaining and a commonness of possession and fail to see that no universal quality can exist in anything as particular in definition.
The universal is possessed as definitely by every man to whom no conscious concept of its possession is possible as by that individual who has quickened to its recognition in every phase of living and nonanimate reality. The equality of souls is universal in such a way as this. The one conscious of the fellowship possesses it in the same degree as one held subconsciously to its power, but his advantage is through anticipation and initiative and not patronizing superiority or benevolent charity. If we are conscious members of this invisible fellowship we are able to know the soul as it is, and to see in others the flowering of immortal character rather than the meanness of incomplete self-discovery or the potential of fineness in living instead of the superficial indication of self-defeat and ultimate annihilation.
The only true equality is one of potentiality, and so the aspirant looks only for potential fineness in every disparate other.
FELLOWSHIP OF CHARACTER
We might well from time to time ask ourselves, just what is the basis of our association in terms of an invisible fellowship or the eternal companionship of which we write so much? Also, just what do we expect of ourselves and others? Obviously we must approach the ideal on higher levels than those of everyday life and consequently we must reach beyond normal expectations in every detail of effort. The associations of men of like interest in business and professional life are no model for an invisible company because self-interests there are wholly competitive or eventually exclusive. The communities of ordinary relationship among men are essentially protective or organized to fence out various undesirables. In everything of the sort the bottom consideration is of human weakness or the frailty of character. What there is of genuine Spirit is a minimal or remote consideration.
An invisible fellowship is never of such an order but is of the eternal strength of human character or of the enduring in every personality. The portals are wide open to all who can enter into the consciousness and there is great rejoicing at each new addition to the membership. When it comes to the eternal there is enough to go round and any personal possession is but so much, or what is comprised in an inner perfecting of the selfhood, and in consequence there cannot be a competition or feeling of rivalry such as makes beasts of men and completely limits any spiritual aspect of normal living. The seeker who becomes one with the eternal companions is not much interested in what may be inadequate in others but rather is drawn to enduring aspects in those around him as these show the realized enduringness in himself or reveal elements of character that are immortal in their sharing.
The initiate consciously chooses to search for the best in all his associates and thus establishes a fellowship in what is enduring, and so immortal.
DIFFERENCE IN INVISIBLE FELLOWSHIP
There is one major point that must be made about the invisible or general spiritual fellowship of this or any other spiritual group, and what is said will apply equally to the fellowship that sustains the groups in their relations one to another or literally builds their organisms into a wholly intangible but functioning supergrouping and to each individual group in reference to its own membership. The idea is that this invisible fellowship is a primary functioning factor in spiritual work. It is much more than a mere term or generality in the fact that it definitely does something, and this thing that it may be said to do is to delimit difference and set up spiritual as different from physical distinctions. Difference in an ordinary sense must always be discrete to sustain separation and competition and risk as a basis of conscious existence in each realm of experience. But in the enduring or spiritual view the fact of difference is identity or focus in experience as that which tends to draw things together and to weave them in a reality wherein they exist only together, and are only themselves or discrete as they individually center or focus the whole with which they identify themselves. This is in the realms of realization as has already been indicated, and the delimitation of difference that is brought about by the invisible fellowship is one in which no person is seen as different in any respect other than in a choice of manifestation in some common value or general experience in particular case.
The great invisible fellowship thus links all people and by their absolute equality in every conceivable aspect of immortal being makes them individual or different only in expression of free will in which each at all times exhibits a potentiality of every other.
In the spiritual realm individuals are absolutely equal. However each is different from every other in the focus of his expression of that unity in which all are one.
THE SUDDENNESS OF REALIZATION
The brilliant blinding light on the way to Damascus that Paul experienced has become typical of the expectation in the minds of seekers for illumination ever since, and so a frequent question arising in the consciousness of the neophyte is whether his progress may be of the steady or gradual sort or whether he should expect some sudden rejuvenation or new birth as taught by Jesus. The great moments on the Path as these are described by many giants among the initiates present the glory of thaumaturgy. Moses is brought up short by the bush that burns but is not consumed. God Himself wrestles with Jacob. Angels appear and instruct the Maid of Orleans. Sometimes it seems that any person of spiritual consequence is buttressed by dreams or visions and specially marked or encouraged by magical intervention, and that every lesser person who seeks to follow along the way must look for this initial certification of higher support before he can proceed at all.
This expectation of the untoward and the magical is what charlatanry thrives on because the individual who desires to exploit a group of the gullible is able to talk in the language dear to deep and secret desires when he narrates the wonders of his own experience with the promise to his hearers that these can be known also by all who are willing to accept his guidance. The very fact that experience of the esoteric sort he promises is outside every usual frame of reference in everyday affairs means that the common safeguards against indiscretion or the canons of common sense that can be used in judging the exoteric are of no service, and the quest for higher reality becomes disordered and blind as a fact that at the start is guarantee against anything of permanent or real spiritual worth.
Realizations are subjective and any spectacular exterior phenomena are the result rather than the accompaniment of the realization.
SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE SELF-CENTERED
The great fallacy in the common expectation of spectacular or thaumaturgic events at the threshold of initiation, such as the shining appearance to Paul on the Damascus road, is that attention has been given to the surface manifestation and so withdrawn from an inner and deeper process of self-realization of which it is only a transient and at the moment a wholly unimportant part. Here is the doctrine of the ineffectiveness of the ulterior that it is so hard for an aspirant to grasp at the beginning. While obviously he is not seeking a manifestation of wonder as the end goal in his progress he yet is asking a superficial reflection of the inner reality as a foundation for experience with that reality, and he encounters difficulty because he is in fact putting the cart before the horse. It is akin to the boy who in seeing the obvious magic and satisfaction of a kiss given an older lad by a young lady may want the touch of her lips for himself in expectation of a similar alchemy without the least of contributory participation in the gentle ceremony out of his own maturing eagerness.
Exterior experience as seen objectively or from the outside rather than inside view is simply meaningless. Thaumaturgy witnessed by a mere spectator is not spiritual manifestation at all. An observer at the burning bush would see nothing extraordinary since the principle that spiritual things are spiritually discerned is true here no less than anywhere else. Each man is responsible for what meaning events will have for him. Thus any anticipation of wonderful happenings, if these are to be provided by external means in any way, cannot be gratified except by hocus pocus and charlatanry. The aspirant may have these magical experiences but only as they are born within.
External spectacular phenomena have meaning only to the individual to whom they apply and who has made himself ready to discern their spiritual import.
HIGH MOMENTS ARE IN RETROSPECT
Spiritual development is a slow and steady unfolding but a process that is punctuated at special high points by dramatic events that when seen in their perspective are not unlike the burning bush or the light on the road to Damascus. Both Moses and Paul at such times in the immediate height of their own consciousness were at an issue of decision and realization that gained its intensification from long and perhaps agonizing self-struggle within themselves. The phenomenon of the fire that did not consume was not wonderful or thaumaturgic in any way at the moment but instead was attention-compelling. Whether this meant an illusion in everyday terms, or circumstances that actually or physically were exceptional, is an academic problem after all. It is of little import whether the light that blinded Paul was a psychological experience entirely or a case of lightning or other tangible manifestation serving to instrument his quickening. All that survives in an actuality of history is an event, however explained, that marks the exceptional and immortal insight that had significance to Paul.
All such transitions while experienced, like any part of conscious continuity, are far from sudden and awe-inspiring. If this were not so the world would lack dependability and life would never be integrated in any normal way. Everything would be chaos or a loss of the real in the phantasmal in all practical ultimacy. There are many moments in life that have full recognition then and there of what high import they possess but only as special experience has prepared for it in advance. If some young lady seems the fulfillment of every romantic dream on sudden encounter there is a syncopation of time but actually in deeper analysis it is merely more immediate afterperspective.
A realization as a transition in point of view is more often recognized in retrospect than at the time of the occurrence.
THE INTEGRITY OF CONSCIOUSNESS
It seems to be very difficult for man to strike a decent balance between fact and fancy or a full alertness of consciousness as in contrast with the dream state. It usually is customary to give an allegiance to one at the expense of the other. Thus the practical or matter-of-fact individual will adjudge these vagaries of mind as quite unreal in every way or something to be pushed aside as without meaning or at least as only a remote and distorted reflection of this everyday milieu of very tangible existents. Contrariwise the mystic or person of more imaginative constitution will be inclined to look on transient or superficial things as only the outer reflection of a reality of the sort with which contact has to be made in personal exaltation and with which dreams have very direct connection. To him all fancies of mind become insights of far greater importance than immediate facts. What the student of a genuine occultism has to learn is that neither of the extreme views is credible and that the visible and invisible realms of experience are not actually separate from each other at any point.
The integrity of consciousness is shown in its immutable anchorage in both elements of reality or both subjective and objective manifestation of personal existence. The inner complex remains in an unceasing flux precisely as the outer involvement crystallizes in that succession of sharp fixities to which the name of fact is given. The one is the certification of the other because change and changeless in every sense are complementary ideas and the vagaries of fancy give man his means for knowing himself as utterly unconditioned in potentiality and so able to make terms with fact according to his own advantage and desire. He molds the world because he can dream quite apart from it.
Fact and fancy are both reality, one objective and one subjective. Fancy allows an exploration of potentiality so that fact can be dealt with according to one's desire.
THE NATURE OF INSPIRATION
There are so many people in the world who never gain the slightest real acquaintance with inspiration because they hold firm to the idea that it is a sort of exterior compulsion that sweeps them off their feet and makes them for the moment something more than their ordinary and everyday selves. It is the same sort of thing seen on the destructive pattern in dissipation when people have the sense of being carried out of themselves while under the stimulus of liquor. At the revival meeting or even the commonplace worship service the unawakened soul gains his counterfeit of a true exalted experience by the secondhand uplift quickened in him by suggestion or example and music. The tragedy is that many people seeing the pseudoinspiration drifting away and feeling themselves slipping back into their limitations will place the blame on the exterior agency rather than on their own failure when it comes to the sustainment of any real transcendence, and so continue the pursuit of the very reality they are seeking to avoid.
Inspiration is not determined by the agency within which it is cultivated but by the creative aliveness of the experience of an individual who makes it his own. Dependence of any sort destroys the very fiber of inspiration by taking it out of its own center. Thus a person who faces some issue and whose heart is heavy and mind shadowed by the very weight of the limitations in which he has framed his whole momentary reality will be unable to grasp anything but elements of the encompassing milieu of this moment no matter how he may believe he can do otherwise. But let him remain quiet in an inner regrasping and at once the total frame of his reality is regrasped at center because the act is to center and thereupon the genuine inspiration is possible.
When the aspirant enters into experience wholly and with creative aliveness and when he grasps the central essence of that experience inspiration is possible.
THE INTENSIFICATION AT CORE
It is when man is specially collected at center that the phenomenon of inspiration is likely to be discovered in a purest manifestation of itself. The great issues of life are intensifying in an extremely strong manner since an individual not only is most entangled or quite out of course or brought up short in an outer world but is no less keyed up and brought to a vortex of conflicting relations with an exceptional number of ramifying considerations within himself. There is far more converging at center than normally and so greater potentialities of act and decision as well as of suffering impact. What the inspiration is at base is the inner or vicarious sensing of the better move or the action or attitude of self that will be the most ultimately self-completing. Under stress the individuality reaches out in an infinity of directions of potential self-expression or realization and the conscious recognition of the possibility is the inspiration in its own terms. The inspired act is the same thing done less consciously. It is here that man's extremity has so long been seen as God's genuine opportunity to flow in and through the given individuality.
The exterior situation does not engulf the self in these cases any more than the inner seething cancels out the everyday world. There is intensification as against the casual moments punctuating the everyday flow of reality, and when an individual does not rise to meet the great occasion but lets it sweep over him he is lost as a spiritual creature. Man is divine because he can rise against exterior compulsion and develop his dependable steadiness of self to match the degree of exterior pressure. Inspiration is this self-rising. Thus a seeker is called to a greater rather than lesser real self-assertion.
An individual under stress is suffering a convergence at core, and this is the ground from which inspiration strikes as he reaches out to search for a solution.
INSPIRATION MAKES SMALL PRETENSE
True inspiration is a delicate and fragile stirring that proves itself through its practicality. Consisting of a tentative or unvalidated and wholly spontaneous outreach of self on a really vicarious level as a case of the trial and error of all existence in any or every pertinent situation in the passing of time it is but one of what perhaps is a myriad of similar lightning-like flicks of act of self in the given milieu, but it differs from nearly all the others in that it builds to possible and desirable reality through what it uncovers of a potential response and co-operation of self and the situation with the result of this a following and stronger outreach of the same sort such as remains vicarious trial and error. But a rhythm is established or this one out of a host of possibilities gains the reality expressed in the actual move or attitude by which the vicarious moves over into the more commonplace and shared reality. In the case of the healthy mind the flow of inner stirring to outer act is smooth and competent but in an instance of a maladjusted individual the conflicts are at focus not only in the complex of outer involvement but in the inner turmoil.
The inspiration is that stirring toward profitable movement of self by act or attitude as this has first evidence in the mind or inner consciousness or there is a basic awareness of what can be in the light of both the beginnings with which the outer milieu will have high co-operation and the self-fulfillment through the consummation or completion when this is understood and made a conscious act. Nothing has effective reality except as it moves to be itself within itself at precisely the moment everything about it moves to help it be itself in a consummation of itself and of the general situation potentials.
The inner stirring of inspiration to which the self responds suggests both a potentially helpful external solution and a satisfactory self-consummation.
INSPIRATION IS PROPHETIC LIVING
The individual who stirs deeply within himself in acting or who somehow always knows ahead of his doing in a sort of subtle way is the truly inspired person. He becomes more and more aware of what can be inspiration on the one hand or futile self-wanting on the other because he is aware of greater and greater aspects of the stirrings of himself to this and that potentiality, or increasingly is manifold and imbued with multidimensionality in his conscious approach to life both externally and subjectively. Instead of reaching out to receive more and more of any necessary buttressing of existence from notself he can become more and more independent of any particular aspect of the outer world because with such infinite ramification of resources in his conscious control at any and all times he holds within himself the potential available for complementing any convenient aspect or phase of the exterior reality. Because he can co-operate instantly with any given element of exterior reality at any particular moment, life in totality has a tendency to co-operate with all phases of himself.
Inspiration in a sense is creative opportunism or is the resourcefulness that meets reality with plussage of its own genius and repays all life with compound interest in sustained reality for what a person may receive from life and thereby eternally draws everything to a point of self-control in what superficially seems mere luck and what from a deeper view is spiritual living or the will to constructive and immortal fulfillment. Inspiration is the insight of self-stirring in this sense or is a prophetic appreciation of potentials at hand and an instinct to make the very best use of them. It comes out of the real fullness of a selfhood knowing and sharing itself in all essentials.
The aspirant whose inner stirring is deep lives with inspiration and so is constantly ready to evaluate and make use of the potentials available at any moment.
WHAT IS FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD?
The call in all spiritual work is to the refinement of a personality that can enter communion or fellowship with God, and there can be no visualization of this through a process whereby man is somehow made less and less like divinity as a condition of the intimacies. All the notions of a mergence into the Godhead by becoming essentially of God's nature by a resort to self-mortification or repudiation of an undisciplinable physical flesh or meditation as psychological thinning and reduction of self to a nebulous ectoplasm are simply varied effort beginning in earliest times to think of God and man in terms of actual substance of a chemical or atomistic nature no matter how transcendent or exalted in supposition. God is not a superior sort of earth. An effective divinity is not a concentration of power like compressed gas in a metal tank or electrical energy in a battery. It is not reality that flows like water or moves in time and space like air or particles that can be observed in their hapless drifting in the atmosphere. An idea of God like every idea of man is of an acting entity and there is no fellowship or communion between actualities of this functional sort except that which arises in a common doing and exists in a persistence of the act in common no matter of what nature it may be.
Faith without works is dead because wholly static unless whether subjectively or objectively it is doing something. Hence any acceptable idea of higher consciousness in a genuine occultism must be one that first of all centers in a doing and then in a doing that is a definite expression of an aspiring entity because arising within it in a very necessary way. The effort to merge into God and disappear can be accomplished philosophically only by psychological death to self.
A man is one with God when he acts and continues to act together with God in the expression of his own deepest aspirations.
WE LIVE IN EACH OTHER
The most important of all spiritual principles is rooted in the simple psychological fact that we live in each other whenever a move is made or a judgment reached and all consummated in that respect for personality on which the entire Sabian project is founded. Hence we are asked to make a constructive contribution of self in every possible relationship of life on down to the most trivial detail and also to refuse to permit anything alien to ourselves to dominate any situation that for the moment is of vital concern to us. We are told that we always in some respect must center every complex in which we become involved and that unless we grasp control of our own destiny we end up surrendering our every chance for conscious immortality. Our obligation is to meet all people in true fellowship or to mind our own business at all times and thus learn how to make our constructive or lasting contribution to all things through the value and substance we find for ourselves in the very act of doing this. We are able to take because we give to what we are happy to see as real on its own basis and in our grasp of its potentials we fulfill all parties in mutual tie.
When the Bible points out that it is not good for man to live alone the point is more than the complementation given to Adam in Eve or to any later male in any sort of direct partner. What emerges in human history is the evolution of the social creature that the conscious entity has to be by the very necessity of its nature. A merely physical continuance that has satisfaction in air and water and its food alone is not existence with any meaning for a conscious creature. Consciousness must permeate its milieu in order to function and living entities must have community expression or center in more than self.
Since conscious existence is dependent on community expression, the aspirant chooses to keep his consciousness high by making only constructive contribution.
WE SERVE WHETHER SERVED OR NOT
Because we are all social creatures in the way indicated in the preceding letters we continually provide some symbolism for the other fellow no matter whether we make full use of his contribution to us or not. It is our privilege to live without positive effort to be what we would like ourselves to be but what we do become has continual impact on everybody around us quite independently of our effort in our own behalf. Each individual at his worst symbolizes the degenerative or diffusing and antisocial impulses and acts of his fellows and hence is a sustainment for them although he could quite as well provide better symbolism and so participate in a higher and more rewarding fellow reality. We serve everyone around us whether we are served by anyone in the same way or not. As far as we are concerned we exist under an inner and outer shaping according to the symbols we consciously accept or make a representation of our being and hence we tend to live in the individuals around us who for the moment are most useful in sustaining the given symbolization. People are not linked together by relations of a karmic fixity since that would involve a reality in changeless or immortally static or divinely helpless terms that simply would condemn being under an initial or impossible bondage but rather by the life of each as it comes to have potential of self-certification in any other.
Immortal bonds between souls often are found but only as the two so linked are immortally stimulating to each other and in that are entirely free of necessary obligation to each other or established limitation by which neither can move in some given aspect of actuality or fellowship without basic dependence on the other. The great bonds in human understanding are those that hold while yet wholly free.
As the community serves as the milieu for an individual's expression, the individual serves the community by providing it with some symbol.
THE ONE GREAT SIGNATURE
Nothing is a more dependable signature for the seeker on the Path than the quick and apparently effortless manner in which most of his immediate problems and difficulties are resolved. This is the oldest spiritual criterion in the world, as found at the outset of Old Testament development and paralleled in all ancient religions and also in primitive superstitions. However strikingly dramatized in Job the proposition is far from being as clear as most people would like. To enter on the Path is not to be released from strain, or to escape disheartening experiences of tragic sort at times. What an initiate may gain as far as personal peace is concerned is neither static exemption nor insulation from grief or agonizing concern since if that were so a separation from living touch with his kind and common responsibilities for the welfare of the world would destroy him as the social creature. He soon gets to the point where petty stresses are largely nonexistent because of the speed or smoothness with which he can make any move required for his superficial well-being but this of course is what frees the creative capacity or ability to meet risk intelligently for an enlarged necessity in social and spiritual service. This latter is the greater rather than lesser participation in the real responsibility of a social order that does not compel others but rather flows through or around them in heightened effort for a spiritualization of society.
The initiate is a pioneer among his fellows and hence he seeks accomplishment that often seems wholly strange to them and fails to enlist their interest. Since they see the reality slowly they set up a resistance that impedes all larger solutions but signature of undelaying progress is afforded constantly in trivial personal affairs.
When the initiate elects to enter a spiritual service his immediate and lesser difficulties tend to disappear and thus free his creative capacities for wider problems.
ABNORMALITY CANNOT BECOME IMMORTAL
The normalizing of the abnormal individual means that an exceptional capacity has been brought under leash. If occultism just took an average or static person under discipline, any initiation of a true sort would never be possible simply because the ring-pass-not can never be transcended by normal intellection. It would be clear if an average and nonsinful person hearing that the sinner makes the greater saint should start out to sin deliberately as a first step to development of sainthood, he would not be the sinner honestly enough for real contribution to his desired foundation. Esotericism needs its normal devotees for its central fellowship, and for the validation of what an abnormal seeker contributes by way of catalysis, and while none of the settled group may achieve the higher awakening individually they bring a group steadiness in which an invisible fellowship can be established and their experience in participation in this assists them in breaking the bonds of presupposition in the collective activity. This is what Jesus means in saying that if he is lifted up he will draw all up with him. The seeker under the Solar Mysteries must not be different in a show-off sense but neither must he be average in lacking distinction.
Immortality is gained by the embracing of all that actually is a part of self, or that ever has been or ever promises to be a part, in an enlarged or expanded self that thereupon is totally unique as well as completely whole in every spiritual sense and that in every practical sense in consequence repudiates no responsibility of present or prior relationship. Nothing is escapist or static because no part of the self's world is rejected or immobilized and because every trace of selfhood is shared through an invisible fellowship of immortality.
Because the gaining of immortality involves the whole of self every item of one's experience must be accepted by self and transmuted into its immortal essence.
MEMORY AND IMAGINATION
There are only two possible bottoms of thought and these provide man the thinking animal with two extremes of attitude that may anchor him in bondage. One of them has its end result in metaphysics or that world view that as a dominant frame of reference determines or directs all possible action into an enslavement to tradition while the other ends up a psychological solipsism or species of realization that is entirely concentrated in an economy of self-indulgence. Of them I think the latter is self-evident, and people with any degree of understanding seek to avoid it. By it an individual is reduced to animalistic or feckless obsession with his own sensual pleasure whether this be gluttony or sexual excess or any bodily escapism on the one hand or on the other much more intellectualized narcissism as in power lust or ruthless if unconscious crowding ahead of his fellows and exploitation of every possible transfer of their comfort and privilege to some personal advantage. Examples of this solipsistic extremism are common.
Much more menacing to men collectively is the bondage on the side of philosophical metaphysics and theology or an acceptance in quite uncritical fashion of what I might call the psychology of elder-statesmanship or a spirit of a literal and destructive rather than effectively proper ancestor worship or of veneration of what has been in a complete detachment from any sense of what can be. Extremes as the failure in each case to realize the complementary contribution made by its opposite are always fruitless since here is the move to unreality. The individual must always lean to one extreme but he is defeated when there is no rectification by the other. Thus we have memory or imagination as basic complements, the first best balancing the other.
The initiate keeps a balance between tradition and exploration of potentiality, between memory and imagination, for they serve to rectify each other.
SPIRITUAL ATTENTION IS MORALE
When things are dismissed to automaticity they in a true sense are moved up from physical to spiritual attention and hence they are said to be spiritualized. The whole technique of New Thought has its roots here. Petty things are not left to God because unworthy of man's concern but because it takes a greater self-development to raise the little things of life into immortal harmony than it does to meet a greater issue such as proclaims its own solution by its broad dramatic impact on events and its consequent creation of group interest. Most men and women are able to sacrifice their lives graciously for a great cause as the fact that makes religion possible and establishes life in epic proportions for the sustainment of timid souls in times of dreary monotony, but it takes a high initiate to maintain real harmony in the usual course of civilized details. The finest definition of Spirit's works I ever encountered was that it was a flow in and through all the everyday activities and interests of the community. Life is never an end in itself. Do we live just to live? Do we get somewhere onward in a greater dimension of continuing for the sake of continuing? All such is infinite regression or utter loss of reality in time. Rather we live that we may do something with living and have being in doing.
The here and now is actuality as such, and any spiritual reality is infinitely unlimited participation in all that is and never an infinite regression toward something that never is because it never is reached whether in experience or knowledge. The flow of self into every function of the community is not a conscious attention that is a creative immediacy of doing but is an underlying morale and verve that make it possible to give each immediacy greater and greater embrace.
The purpose of life is to live now in the myriad details that make up an individual's day, and to raise each one in ideal and fact into the realm of immortal harmony.
THE STAR OF MAN'S OWN GENIUS
Deep within every soul there is that which has called it into being, and this cannot be but imperfectly represented by whatever genius of the race or world at large it expresses as price for an outward and superficial existence. There are of course some exceptional individuals of every age who make manifest among men a racial power of the sort that must equal or exceed the real potentialities inherent in their own being, but this sort of an incarnation is a sacrifice and of it there is nothing to be said of value to the average individual, who in his own experience finds life a hampering rather than uplifting influence. Perhaps a sacrifice of this sort is desirable, and if so we might well aspire to it. But obviously it is as limiting in one way, as far as obtaining a conscious mastery of life is concerned, as usual experience may be seen to be in the other. Man normally desires that his own genius will flourish, and to this end not only must he give of himself to life but life also must give of itself to him and this must always be a matter of real reciprocity if balance be preserved.
The star of man's own genius is that which he brings out from the depths of his own being, not as payment to life for a continuance of his present relationship with life but as the bid or offer to life for a greater and richer living. There is here no sacrifice because he gains to the extent that he gives, and gives to the extent he gains. Man here asks for a greater conditioning at the hands of life and offers a greater service to make this fair to life. Thus what he seeks is not the outward certification but the inward reality so given certification in order to discover himself absolutely or independently and to take his place forever in a genuine cosmic citizenship.
A man taps his genius as an effort toward plumbing the depths of himself to discover himself totally. Certification by the world is signature that he has done so.
THE WORLD EXISTS FOR MAN
There is no cause in this world great enough to call the individual to an allegiance that does not permit concurrent and even a superior allegiance to self. The principle here we recognize as that of freedom of conscience although in actual practice we may give it an altogether grudging recognition as a freedom of prejudice. The proof of a Spirit-touched life is not that life's violent repudiation of the soul's normal full participation in everyday living but rather the innumerable signs of perfect at-one-ment between the ideals of the individual and of the social momentum or cause to which this individuality is drawn irresistibly. In general man discovers himself in the world around him rather than loses himself in it. The luckless one who was downed by a given combination of circumstances is the one who has been unable to find himself or to reach out and know himself objectively.
Jesus taught us that the sabbath exists for man, not the reverse principle that would enthrone the alien or place the spiritual center other than at the core of any or all consciousness. We therefore must see that what is also implied is that this world is made for man and not the contrary or usual idea of a conditioned identity. We must accept the world as existing for man's convenience, with its role the provision of the means whereby he may discover and perfect his own eternal potentials. The call to aspirants is not to improve the circumstances in which they find themselves for the sake of the bettering itself except as the better world they make leads to a better relation with all their fellows and the acquisition in themselves of new powers of immortal functioning. Often a desire to improve the world is pure smugness or a desire to puff up self and dominate others.
The world exists to provide the milieu in which man seeks to improve all relationships with his fellows and thus develop his own wider immortal powers.
ACCIDENT IS ALERT POTENTIALITY
The accident of the particular case is the unassimilated ordering by the total cosmic factor of pertinence in alignment to what individual expression momentarily has proved most convenient for integrating the individuality as such in the given particularity. In the economy of the whole universe the ordering is quite impersonal, and is to be seen as operating with equal fidelity to the case whether an individual has merely drifted into the situation or proceeds consciously to direct and control the immediate circumstances. Perspective hence must be taken from the individual and not the cosmos if the purpose of thought or analysis is to understand what can be had or done, and if a person is willing and anxious to dominate his own affairs. Occultism therefore approaches the ultimate potentiality of things as the cosmos per se, and with an attitude of devotion or a religious realization in knowing that sharing is experience and that the core of sharing is the flowing of self into others and the core of spiritual sharing the flow of total self into a totality of all that is. God is known only in a personal experience of this all-potential of absolute sort. This may be expressed or dramatized in a million ways, but it remains simple as a wholly individual sense or felt-actuality of self-flow into the all.
Thinking is something quite apart from the religious experience of absolute self-mergence into the Godhead, and hence such an experience can be lost only if subjected to rational dissection. The perspective in all thought must be from the individual, and any effort to reason from the absolute or in mind to be both a whole and nonwhole is to remain wholly irrational. Thought is the way to manipulate the differences by which self is distinct and it always must stress them.
Thinking stresses the differences between individuals. The flow of self outward in a sharing with others stresses the oneness of all.
SPIRITUALITY IS HEALING MINISTRY
The spiritual logistics, as apparent in the various factors that I frequently have tried to make clear, are a matter of physical and everyday association in every respect. Each individual must gain a fellowship in spirituality to allow him to increase his no less important fellow-activities with those around him in normal life or to substantiate a focus of self-being in pure sharing as in contrast with the competitive relations that at root characterize most worldly ties. Control of experience rather than the suffering of experience thus becomes the real goal of spirituality, but not a purposeful control as a sort of self-aggrandizement and competitive effort that merely adds to individuality's bondage to its time and space situation. Everyone is at times and even frequently under pressures where the worldly factors dictate his actions or reactions, and if he is not to be caught up and lost in physical compulsions of cause and effect he must be able somehow to act and gain a strength of true selfhood. This is genuine and effective spirituality and in worldly terms is pure healing. Whoever is able to reach up or down and share some bit of transcendence with a few or a totality of his fellows is spared from the annihilation of an inevitable loss of the one in the many through the infinite regression that characterizes reality in its time-and-space causes and effects.
A spiritual work is a fellowship of spirituality, and so every detail of its operations and any planning of its services to the lost and suffering souls of humanity must depend on a basic or utterly simple consciousness such as the group realization we talk about. An essential lack of this in the terms of the practical world where it is known is the only real block to achievement in anything we attempt.
The pure self-being that the aspirant develops through his participation in the group consciousness is the healing that he shares with his associates in everyday life.
SPIRITUALIZED SOCIAL POTENTIALITY
If the values of self are to be enhanced the values cannot be the ones that are primarily self-of-itself as drawn apart or in no association with any other being for the reason that whatever is of the self alone is of that which of itself remains changeless, separate and unsatisfactory. Only to the inner genius of man in holding reality in company with other men does he himself owe any getting out from himself in order to have perspective on himself and thereby expand his being. To that-which-exists-within all occultism and each fellowship true or false must appeal, and of these only the outwardly-looking elements are responsive to the appeal. These are social potentialities and the task of spiritual group work is to spiritualize them, in order that they may express values of permanent self-orientation.
Things of the world are entirely unreal if they are seen only as things-in-themselves, but if the spiritualized social potentialities of self be reflected through and identified in the things that comprise the substance of everyday, the result is not a materializing, a lowering of the inner potentialities, but rather is a spiritualizing of the outer world so that the social and fellowship power of man will have actuality. The function of the group is not to initiate men directly, for no one can be initiated in the higher Mysteries unless the initiator is the initiate and the self-bestowing is as asserted in the Sabian pledge, but rather to help the individual spiritualize each detail of outer life and hence make possible his own spiritualization or dedication to enhanced values and the social potentialities within his deeper self. Fellowship is a release of the self, not to degenerated impulses but instead to the full flight of potent aspiration.
The aspirant goes about his life holding constantly to his spiritual intent, thus not only expanding his own deeper potentials but spiritualizing outer life.
THE ETERNAL INDWELLING IN MAN
Values are individual, and in this fact lies the genuine divinity of man. Were there stock-in-trade virtues, and were such to go down in literal terms, there would be no adventure in being good or in seeking spiritual stature. The Solar Myth has sought to portray a Jesus and a Buddha as cut out of the same cloth with the same pattern, but no effort yet made by man has eliminated individuality successfully. Millions of people dwell on the globe and with the ages in ever eternal procession these mount in numbers beyond visualization, though reincarnation brings men back again and again, and yet no two are even approximately alike. Difference seems the eternal law of the cosmos, and where things are most similar they seem always to be on the lowest and least evolved of levels. There can be no spiritual progress when men are standardized or brought into a forced conformity to standards.
Our spiritual fellowship is a clinging to our difference in terms of the single element of the universe in which all difference or all individualities are alike, but with which nothing much like any other thing can be compared except the divine itself. The essence of initiation of any sort is the baptism of eternal differences by which, and in and through which, each man gains full confidence in the unique facets of his own being. The eternal indwelling in man is value-plus or the very incarnation of the fluid noncompromising element of a full faith in the unknowable depths of self. This is far removed from any squaring of the being to the little fences put up by man to contain or pasture his petty goodnesses of superficial ongoing. If man has full power of divinity within himself he conforms to all petty ideals in an ease of living because inwardly he is self-aligned to cosmic issues.
In spiritual fellowship men are one in the divine, and this shared oneness embraces the absolute uniqueness of all individual differences.
A GARDEN OF MYSTICAL EXPECTATIONS
The key that unlocks the gates of the garden of mystical or eternal and self-sublimating expectations is the realization of the essential simplicity in all reality. We find ourselves in complexity but we preserve ourselves in the inward oneness of self itself. This means that while there cannot be a permanent withdrawal from life, nor a complete and permanent retreat into the subjective side of being, by the same token there cannot be too great an identification of selfhood in the outer things or symbols of life. Position among men is of the greatest importance to a self-respecting soul. The physical needs of life must be met honestly and firmly. The tangible instincts of mind must have regular outlet. Yet all these things are of the outer, and they become increasingly illusive as the soul is denied a chance for a divestment of itself from all encumbrances and hence fails to find the elements that really have become part of itself.
In a spiritual company, whether it is a great formal occasion of ritual and music and splendor or a mere gathering of several students to study a lesson together, the actual motive of participants is the joy in the fellowship they have eternally in common and forever may know they have in common if they will forever meet on its basis of simplicity and unspoken understanding and hence permit issues never to rise as the basis of association. The garden of mystical expectation is that place of the inner being wherein the expectation of every soul is that of every other soul. The garden takes an objective form in a regular student or study group when the universality or simplicity can be maintained. We are strengthened in spirit when it becomes our opportunity to know each other in the relaxed moments of real self.
It is necessary to keep a balance between the requirements of outer life and the simple quiet dwelling within the self, whether in solitude or in company.
FELLOWSHIP MAKES USE OF EXPERIENCE
Fellowship consists of what is brought to it rather than an aggregation of contributions about a superior and alien purpose and objective offered by supposedly higher intelligences and the like, and it should be evident in view of what the fellowship actually has to be that nothing ever can penetrate its substance or be brought to it that cannot be shared in one or another way by every true component of this fellowship. With this sharing there is a twofold capitalization on a venture. That one who can articulate the whole in his individual act is capitalizing on his own skill and so is having expression in a larger and more constant realm of expression, and in this he takes a step forward toward conscious immortality. The others whose interests are thus articulated are also capitalizing on the same experience by sharing in it and in that are achieving a degree of constancy and security because their own act and skill are left for similar special articulation in other directions.
Perhaps the earliest description of the process in man's philosophical growth is in Plato's Republic, as Socrates neatly traces out the transition from a simple primitive state in which each self is left to go its own way to the greater social fellowship in which every self by sharing skills and experience is enabled to command experience in accordance with ideas or ideals and to know and enjoy the spiritual life as in contrast with mere animal existence. Instead of each person making his own shoes, growing his own food and so on, a cobbler is able to concentrate on shoes and a farmer on his crop and both thus to have what neither can have alone. Spiritual fellowship is furthering the skills of selfhood by sharing the fruitage of varying selfhood.
In a spiritual fellowship each participant shares his excellence with all, which is an enlargement for himself and a freeing for specialization of the others.
SHARING VARYING SELFHOOD
Fellowship is a whole on any level of being, and when it comes to a spiritual and invisible wholeness that has approximation at the least in any work such as the Sabian enterprise there is a type of wholeness in which every kind of living skill is exalted. The difficulty arising in the spiritual fellowship on the level of its outer or superficial manifestation is that the participants have not altogether discovered just how to let themselves go into the greater reality that this fellowship offers. The tendency is for each to think of himself as well as the others as remaining separate or competitive rather than as mutually rounded out and brought to wholeness in the totality. It is common to see students showing preferential regard for certain ones of their associates in the fellowship, or seeking to set up particular personal relations with those to whom they give particular importance, as though dealing with a superficial aggregate instead of fellowship.
Students associated together in spiritual fellowship are not married to each other or brought into a business partnership or in any way outwardly related as in a bridge club or any other mere animal or superficial and everyday organization for exclusiveness of place in living distinction but rather are conjoined in an expansion of personal talents and living skills by which personality itself takes on that new dimension known as immortality. This increase in dimension comes into existence with a willingness and capacity to live in others while admitting others into a full living in the genius of self, and thus it is not personal or separate in any common sense but instead is eternal or immortal because life is centered in the whole of living experience with living becoming illimitable or without ultimate definition.
The sharing of individual excellence constitutes a living in others while receiving them into the sanctuary of self and this becomes the wholeness that is immortality.
CENTERING THE SENSE OF REALITY
Reality comes down to the quality of ownness or personal participation in experience. When this experience is without fellowship of a higher or spiritual sort this quality of selfhood then comes down to a question of comparisons between selves or a measure of reality in terms of a competitive existence, and the exact literal circumstances of life become exceedingly important. It then is much better to be a king than a beggar, a priest than a thief, and so on. But if initiation is achieved the question is no longer the what of a personal being but only the how of that what. The mere thief who out of an experience of thievery can see the way to immortality is better off in every way than the young man of high promise who out of an opportunity as one of the twelve apostles will accept thirty pieces of silver with perhaps some muddled notion of contributing to a great cause in a mean or scheming fashion. Reality is not the what of individuality at the final point of reckoning but solely the significance given to it.
In spiritual initiation therefore a great emphasis rests on the continuous reconstruction of experience or a full recall of the relations to which self has been given, and the expansion of relations in all directions through a spiritual or inner enlargement of the former elements of experience. Frequently the bad past is more valuable in this regard than a good one and realization of inadequacy than satisfaction in achievements, since the resulting focus in self-responsibility is sharper and more effective in spiritual fellowship and in an ability to share experience with the others. The value of a person's past in any given case of centering the sense of reality for him ultimately is not because of the kind of past it is but because it is his.
Personal experience is reality and the initiate systematically reviews his relations with others, examining them for pure spiritual content, and learns from the exercise.
THE AGONY OF COSMIC SERVICE
There is nothing of the common and cheap martyrdom in an actual agony of cosmic service but rather a truly satisfying happiness that is a sort of timeless independence of applause or superficial necessity for any kind of proper human co-operation. It is unfortunate that the forceful word agony has to be adopted in this connection, but any weaker terminology would lose the entire significance. Certainly in totality of self-giving the idea of agony is superior and the sweet happiness is in the utter wholeness of a self-spending that is usually known only in a romance of the most exciting sort. In the way that a follower of Jesus is asked to hunger and thirst after righteousness so must the seeker have an equivalent hungering and thirsting for the opportunity that will permit him to give of himself to humanity.
Cosmic service is thus in its roots a subjective reality and an invisible and immortal fact. Outwardly the service is to self in and through creating a transcendent consciousness in self. Things that are done objectively in the objective world will be of cosmic use and often of social value but all effort pointed to a definite goal is ulterior and of itself anticosmic. The seeker may very well make his genuine contribution to mankind but never by any direct effort to that end. If this were not so then vanity would enter and the wholly self would joy in personal self-contemplation. An agony of cosmic service more often than not comes from a sense of total unworthiness and of an utter lack of real accomplishment. The soul has not succeeded in any loss of itself in its immediate ends but in itself has gained power of ultimate self-realization that gives to every unsuspected radiation of itself a shared fellowship in the hope that is a real divine presence.
Dedication to cosmic service is dedication to creating a higher consciousness in the self, and any objective accomplishment in the world occurs by indirection.
THE REAL DIVINE PRESENCE
The paradox is not adopted to make spiritual instruction more difficult but comes entirely from inadequacy of words. The term that may be taken for the expression of a transcendent reality will be unable to convey its proper meaning save in some sort of transcendence in its use, and the meaning is not taken from the word but rather from a rebound precipitated by the word. To say that God is love is never to make Him infinitely tolerant of human weakness but to suggest to an inadequacy of living the requisite fullness that will command a fellow attention from God. God is love in the sense of knowing only the inner and eternal life that speaks to love and calls it forth. When we identify God as justice we truly are accepting the necessity of living and dealing justly if we ever are to be known of God.
An awareness of the Divine presence is therefore not any sort of success in becoming the pipe or funnel for the flowing through us of God's nature in some way but rather a developing of our presence so as to match the eternal presence and direct the attention of men to God instead of to us. Often the seeker desires primarily to shine in the company of his fellows or to borrow some shreds of godly purple as a means for dazzling them. It is true that he will not express it in this way to himself but subconsciously he desires support for an inner feeling of possessed truth that somehow is not secure enough to assure itself by its own light within itself. Mock humility is not the real corrective for inner smugness because it is no less a pose than virile self-assertiveness. The eternal presence of the Divine is evident in terms of human experience in the awe of what should be. Man is given a light beyond and in its gleam he knows his lesser self as nothing.
The Divine presence is evidenced by a doing of what God does, and in such a manner that attention and appreciation are directed to God.
THE ACT TOGETHER
The most exalted realization possible to man is that the act together with others is the mark of his fellowship with God, since only God can act with all that is, and thus God can be realized in any certainty of realization only by acting with His own creatures in whom He acts. The matter might perhaps be made more simple in another way of saying it. Man has God within himself but within himself he moves and acts in an individual totality that necessarily is self-intent but that in co-operation with another in anything of totality or what then is their mutual reality at core is not as much in touch with the alien individuality as it exists of itself in its totality as with a God who is part of all totalities. The philosophical mind will rejoice in an analysis of this sort but for the seeker the essential point is merely that alone he is lonesome but that with others he can know eternity.
There is no eternal existence for a totality that places its definition in a perishable body and in the sensual impacts of some one body or another, or that acts against rather than with by a use of imagination to produce effects on self in lieu of experience in social reality by the healthy organism. The higher life is attained through the higher living of the consistency of act-with or the constancy of a communal interest or intellectual sense of larger totality. Words or phrases and long sequences of lessons are inadequate to drive home the point of all this for a seeker unable to quicken to the idea almost at first presentation. The invisible fellowship of immortality is never gained by a search for the preferential situation but only by the life lived in constant self-enlargement and in consistent self-realization. Stability is of a totality of outreaching and never of self-seeking.
As man acts together with God he acts together with men, so that God who inhabits them all may be realized by all through their common doing.
REALITY RECONSTRUCTS ITSELF
An element of experience is real only when it is capable of survival or reappearance through the shifting panorama of events in experience, and the characteristic of spiritual fellowship is its contribution to a larger and equally continuous reconstruction of reality in the broader significance. Therefore the test of the validity of a genuine occult group work is the fact that it utilizes rather than rejects the various realities of experience brought to it by those finding a place in its pattern of sharing. Aspirants are never separated but instead ever are drawn together on the basis of whatever prior experience may have quickened them to eternal values. Their fellowship is not physical and hence there is no outward and superficial affinity such as always is characteristic of outer social and cultural grouping of kindred souls, except of course as a particular or highly congenial drifting together in the physical and secondary aspects of the fellowship may be expected as an incidental and hardly important by-product.
It is only in a spiritual fellowship that a seeker might hope to have an eternal intimacy with a thief, as was the privilege of Jesus on the cross, or the depth of a shared suffering in failure such as Judas brought to his master and so gave Jesus the broader living in those of his racial brothers to whom otherwise he could less eternally extend the real hand of invisible fellowship. The higher group reality is as constructive in eliminating the isolation of high individual merit, in the case of those who in their conquest of the temptation of bestiality have lost their full contact with others, as it is in healing the weakness of those who in too great dependence on others are in a state of continual flowing away in realities not actually their own.
The understanding of the initiate is enlarged by a continual reconstruction of experience until all experience can be accepted and utilized.
NO HIGH MERIT IS INDIVIDUAL
Because the spiritual fellowship is an organism, and because there is no exterior or outside and superior entity or elemental reality of which it is more the expression than of the components that create it by their voluntary and whole dwelling in each other, it follows that no member of the fellowship is more this fellowship than any other participant. It must follow also that the ideas and notions of no one individual in reference to the fellowship are more valid or actual than those of the others. From this it should be possible in an almost literal sense to see that no one actually participating in this sort of a spiritual group can in any way be dissatisfied or displeased essentially with the participation of any of those with whom he now is linked. This is a fact because he lives in them as much as he dwells in himself. On lower physical and animal levels he remains that personality he always has been. If he does not care for beans he is not likely to care for beans any more than before, even though it will not disturb him particularly to eat them when their eating is a symbol and sacrament of some higher value. He still will be particular where he before has been particular, and hence avoid the things that to him are unpleasant when no higher good is served by touching them.
But these distinctions that are high merit in a physical and animal society, and that continue to be even a greater virtue when they represent expansion of personality and its sense of values in the proper realms for such expression, are factors of worth in a spiritual fellowship when they are shared and so not really individual. Thus a crude purely brute force knows itself superlatively in a finely strung or delicate gentility with the gentility no less exalted in the beast.While in the physical realm one remains a distinct personality, in a spiritual fellowship each dwells quite as wholly in every other as he dwells in himself.
THE SHARING IS CERTIFICATION
The whole world loves a lover because the lover in quite definite fashion is sharing his love by radiating the plussage that he finds not so literally in love itself as in all life as somehow warmed and exalted by this possibility of loving. The initiate is loved and venerated by the whole world in the same fashion if less superficially or personally and possessively because he radiates a true appreciation or sensitiveness and delicacy of insight or spiritual penetration, together with every possible sharing of higher values and in consequence demonstrates a transcendence of all limitation everywhere he expresses himself. On this level of spiritual sharing the personal intimations of immortal persistence or personality are strengthened, and spiritual fellowship ultimately proves to be this transcendental relation. The initiate knows himself through his association with all of like spirit in common recognition of the higher potentials of everyday living.
The fellowship of a particular occult group is vested in this phenomenon of like spirit in activity or growth and specifically, in as far as every single member is concerned, is found in that fellow effort with others to meet all the terms of the pledges or commitments of the stage of discipline to which he gives himself. If there is an assignment of study or work in consciousness or help with the routines in which the group reality is brought into tangible being, the fellowship must be seen in a spiritual sense to lie in the chance offered to show a plussage of self in the performance of a group function. Over and above the actual performance and of far greater import is a chance to radiate this transcendent participation out and through every other function of existence as a manifestation of the shared idealization.
The glow that accompanies the giving of self in spiritual fellowship carries over to all life and impregnates the most casual relationships with radiance.
IMPERFECTION IS OPPORTUNITY
The value of any notion of perfection is the recognition of a given imperfection as a challenge to a deliberate achievement and encouragement of an expansion in life and consciousness, and it is the heightening of conscious existence that ultimately is of worth and not ever the actual end in view or verbal expression of purpose that in an effective way has been the stimulus to act. When it comes to fellowship of any spiritual nature in occult groups the greatest factor in a definite expansion of higher realization is not the perfection of consciousness and achievement brought to a realization by those who enter it and continue its existence but rather the definitely recognized and challenged deficiencies by which each individual can direct his powers forward. The phenomenon here is evident often enough in religious or ordinary church circles. A group made up of the self-righteous whose lives are well-ordered in the light of common acceptances is often not marked by any real warmth of fellowship or by a real friendliness that embraces people with widely different goals in life and with anchorage in experience really deviating from conventional patterns, whereas the group that consists of those with a sense of great need for exaltation of acts and thoughts or the redirection of effort to heightened values in all experience is inclined to offer the warmest of welcome to every soul at all activated by the same upwelling desire for greater things.
Spiritual fellowship exists where spiritual effort is at a high moment of forward aspiration and where in the intensifying consciousness of a need for continuity of act-in-self there is encouragement from any natural contact with others similarly driven from within precisely as in any work the presence of fellow workers is a strength.
The less than perfect is not to be rejected, but is to provide a challenge for the re-direction of one's powers to higher values.
REAL FELLOWSHIP DRAMATIZES VALUES
The mere fact that a spiritual fellowship is never to be taken as an end in itself is no denial of its great functional actuality. The point is merely that what it is to the individual is exactly what he causes it to be by his own employment of it. It exists in the precise situation of an individual's body that has existence quite apart from him when considered as mere organic substance. Fellowship as spiritual or not can be analyzed literally and correctly as the obvious simple congregating of people at a meeting or as the morale evident in the gathering or as the community of interest exhibited and so on but any identification of this sort is meaningless in a higher view and understanding. There is the body of a given individual and there is much that might be said about it fruitfully and from many angles in terms of various categories but ultimately what it is becomes what the individuality is enabled to do because of it and through it as the organism of his living activity or self-continuity. In the same way it can be said that here is the fellowship of the Sabian Assembly as taking it to be evident in one or another feature of the work, and an analysis will be equally fruitful from many different angles. Yet what else can be said of what it is fundamentally other than in terms of an aspirant's own achievement through the spiritual organism it provides?
Clear to any seeker is what the body provides for him as an organism and if the analogy is to be taken it is necessary to indicate what parallel organic function the fellowship may serve. An answer to this fortunately is rather simple. After all the body exists to create and dramatize the needs of basic existence until man desires to exist, and the fellowship similarly furthers a spiritual desire.
The value of a spiritual organism to the aspirant seeking his function as a spiritual entity is measured by what he can do spiritually through his participation in it.
THE INSEMINATION REMAINS DISCRETE
The matter of the lessons and instruction is of subordinate concern in the present general theme of these blue letters, since the mind insemination for the given seeker must always remain centered in his own particular pattern of experience and hence be discrete. A time will never come when thinkers will not employ the Sabian material without the slightest interest or even possible interest in the Sabian fellowship or any other organized regimen of initiation on the pattern of the Solar Mysteries. And certainly it is to be hoped that the insulation and provincialism of Sabian pledged aspirants will never grow to the point where there is no turning to other forms of occultism and to conventional church or scientific and various lay groups for higher inspiration in the general resolution of life to its greatest depth of possible experience. No consideration of the spiritual fellowship is profitable if the end in view is to reveal a single road to initiation but the fellowship is of such a nature in its intrauterine sustainment that it can be but one in any given individual's experience or in each general facet of experience and dimension of unfoldment, and therefore the participation in the fellowship calls for a faithfulness that cannot in any way parallel that wide window-shopping that is the co-operating insemination or quickening self-orientation of interest itself.
The point is that it makes no essential difference which of any given number of group fellowships is taken by the seeker as his own basis of major initiation in any given life, but that he must confine his spiritual sharing of initiatory experience to this particular matrix during the whole period of spiritual gestation unless he wishes to start all over again. A baby is not born of two mothers or more.
Having chosen his path to enlightenment the aspirant, while feeding his various needs from all available sources, remains constant to the discipline of his way.
THE CHAIN OF EXPERIENCE IS PRIMARY
The circumstances that have brought the seeker into that fellowship in which he finds himself are not the result of a single or simple combination of relationships, but rather the entrance into this new enterprise of gaining a conscious immortality is a major result of developments in the whole chain of personal experiences. He need not worry about whether he has found a proper fellowship because the chain of experience that has put him there also has established it as proper for him. The point of view here is not of an exterior life seen from a more or less exterior and summarizing perspective as is the case for the major part in surface experience but is of a slowly germinating or self-fulfilling and new-self-creating impulse that is not subject to a mental judgment. The course of everyday existence has been shaped by a multitude of quite discrete aspirations, and with the passing of the days and the chain of experience developing itself the unsuspected and cradling and common element of higher or spiritual integration has its manifestation in the life through a species of higher gravity. There is nothing brought to bear from without, but in the light of the great eternal values of the race the individual begins to show indication of an inwardly expanded self-dimension such as in turn begins to have its exterior effect in directing the life toward the situations in which a parallel in constants with the spiritual I coming into conscious realization facilitates the practical development of the initiate.
All this is not unlike saying it is of relative unimportance to what a particular chrysalis attaches itself. All that means much is the fulfillment of the promise of a butterfly, and in the fulfillment of it all twigs for use by a chrysalis are virtually one.
The aspirant finds the Path to illumination as a natural consequence of a prior period of germination and inner expansion, and at the moment of his need it appears.
GESTATIVE CHOICE, HOMING INSTINCT
Much of the difficulty young seekers find on the Path is in their insistence on approaching problems as in ordinary life, where most factors are essentially objective and there is a choice among two or more ways of going or two or more ends to be sought. Actually the situation on the Path is that of each nascent personality in the antenatal state and thus it can be asserted that preference of such a kind is little more than the demand on the environment to facilitate a definite return to the womb. In the earlier occultism and especially in the ancient world this psychological irresolution was accepted and met by exacting rigid obedience from an aspirant brought into the personal environment of his master and kept there in an intimate apprenticeship that prevented all material interruption of the gestative process. A candidate matured more simply, but this was a simple world in which he could function easily and he was in no way prepared to serve in a modern complexity where choice and high responsibility outwardly and simple integrity inwardly worked together.
The spiritual fellowship is not to be taken uncritically in even the most superficial details, but the seeker must learn to refrain from any disloyalty to that real or inner core of its being that essentially is himself by confusing the fellowship with those he meets because of it or with the superficial forms or procedures that are its manifestation of the common experience in which his own special strand is heightened by the deeper interweaving that he may be failing to see in an effort to make the inner serve the outer rather than the reverse or true occult emphasis. Meanings are individual always, but as outwardly clashing at times they inwardly are the most revealing.
The heart of the fellowship is not its outer form but the inner core of its being into which the aspirant weaves his own core with all outer procedures serving this end.
TECHNICAL EXCELLENCE VS FELLOWSHIP
It often has been pointed out that the great pioneers in occult and religious work have been as frequently untutored or perhaps even illiterate individuals as men and women well-polished in the ways of their world and their age. The reason for this phenomenon when it occurs is that such a pioneer is left free to gain a high virginal insight into some principle or truth that would be obscured for minds of too conventional an order. All too frequently it is the fool who uncovers the great truth, simply because he has not been drilled in elements of criticism by which the age has developed but at the same time limited and stopped its growth and ultimate continuance to a degree it seldom suspects until there is the impact of the pioneer insight.
In the objective group activities by which the spiritual fellowship gains articulation, and is related to life in the practical way that permits it to carry out its function of mediating high values for the individual experience of illumination or of birth into the dimension of immortality, it is desperately dangerous for the pilgrim to be too critical of particular phases of the activity until he can find means for making sure his contribution will be constructive. Technical excellence actually may smother the fellowship as evident at times in the music and aesthetic surroundings of many occult groups. To an unusual degree the spiritual security of every seeker is cultivated by an employment of the familiar and if a spiritually creative memory can be quickened by bad art the bad thereby becomes a spiritual good. In the larger point of view the goal of a genuine occultism is to use all social and aesthetic value as far as possible in the terms of the most competent critical standards in the limits of pertinent race maturity.
While occultism uses aesthetic and critical excellences to carry out its objective task, these may not be allowed to obscure the pure insights of simple realization.
FELLOWSHIP IN UNIVERSALIZED MEANING
The chart of the growth of the race shows the universalization of experience in which continuing meanings of the race are embedded and preserved in the very texture of the race itself. Meaning is the process by which the race through the individual brings out the value of immediate importance and utilizes it in further growth. The meaning has its root in that exceptional facet of experience where the individual makes a contribution to the race, and does so under unusual circumstances, when this meaning is capable of ordinary acceptance and a real universalization. All meanings at one time were unique in the sense they still had to gain common acceptance, and the important fact here is that they are of service in the process of spiritual gestation when they are universalized or become generally common in racial terms and experience. It is presumed frequently that a group of artists in pioneering a new language of expression are specially close to fellowship of a spiritual sort, but more frequently the esotericism involved in such a creative group is wholly separative and thus material. The spiritual constitution of anything depends not only on lifting up some individual consciousness and creating the dimension of immortality but on lifting up that in which everything else promptly is lifted up also and eventually to precisely the same extent.
Spirituality is individual in the focus of consciousness of the seeker, but he can reach this dimension in himself only by what he is able to do by way of living in others and making it possible for others to live in him. Thus paradoxically it must be said that every initiate is personal or a discrete individuality in the fact that what he is and does involves all other men equally with himself.
The initiate discovers value in experience and shares it with his fellows. A timely value generally accepted is thus woven into race consciousness.
FELLOWSHIP AS ULTIMATE CERTAINTY
It is possible to interpret the fellowship from two different points of view, and the idea is not that one or the other is to be seen as valid or as even the more desirable but that both are sound and that contribution should be made to the fellowship on the basis of both. The first is the practical fraternity idea or a meeting to enjoy the fruits of joint effort as in study classes or healing sessions and the various symbolical and ritualistic observances. Here it only is necessary to remember that the association is spiritual and that as has been explained in detail in the preceding letters there must be no real surrender to social differentiations and association with seekers because this superficially is pleasing on the pattern of everyday congeniality rather than the deeper and ultimately common capacity for an immortal tie. There must be a reason in basic terms for the association, other than the outer pleasure in being together, and while it is obvious that any deliberate cultivation of a pleasant personality will be futile because of the ulterior motive and artificiality of approach there yet must be at all times a recognition of a larger frame of consideration than the social convenience of lesser fellowship. This is the phase of the matter to which principal attention must be given.
The other point of view of the fellowship, which is just as correct and pertinent and important, does not require equal consideration because there is less serious confusion over its operation and its real growth and development. This is the conception of spiritual fellowship as properly the whole invisible consciousness through which the work moves and has its being in its higher reality, and to the degree an occult group is alive and healthy this takes care of itself.
The only possible basis for a fellowship is a spiritual one or the forging of a common immortal tie without social or personal differentiations.